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NICUs: What is a small baby unit?

Small baby units take the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) concept to a new level by specializing in the care of the smallest babies – known as micro-preemies – born at fewer than 27 weeks gestation and/or weighing less than 1,000 grams (2.2 pounds).  The design of the units, which are part of a larger NICU, includes providing a dark, quiet environment.  Parents are encouraged to participate in skin-to-skin care (SSC) techniques that fosters bonding, such as Kangaroo Mother Care.  Caregivers are teamed up to deliver two-person care when the micro-preemies need to be touched.  As the babies grow, they may be transitioned out of the small baby unit to the NICU.

Hospitals with Small Baby Units (this is not a comprehensive list)

  • Advocate Lutheran General Hospital (Park Ridge, IL)
  • Children’s Hospital (Orange, CA)
  • Greenville Health System (Greenville, SC)
  • Helen Devos Children’s Hospital (Grand Rapids, MI)
  • Mercyhealth Hospital-Rockton Avenue (Rockford, IL)
  • Nationwide Children’s Hospital (Columbus, OH)

Sources:

Gonya, J., and others. (2017). Investigating skin-to-skin care patterns with extremely preterm infants in the NICU and their effect on early cognitive and communication performance: A retrospective cohort study. BMJ Open, 7.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5372108/pdf/bmjopen-2016-012985.pdf

GHS launches NICU small baby unit. (2017, May 12). WSPA-TV. http://wspa.com/2017/05/12/ghs-launches-nicu-small-baby-unit/

Jackson, A. (2015, December 9).  Born at 25 weeks weighing less than 2 pounds, ‘spunky’ girl survives in small baby unit. MLive. http://www.mlive.com/news/grand-rapids/index.ssf/2015/12/small_baby_nicu_at_devos_child.html

Morris, M., Cleary, P., and Soliman, A. (2015, October). Small baby unit improves quality and outcomes in extremely low birth weight infants. Pediatrics, 136(4).  http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/pediatrics/136/4/e1007.full.pdf

Watley, K. (2017, February 6). Mercyhealth in Rockford opens region’s first small baby unit to care for micro-preemies. https://mercyhealthsystem.org/mercyhealth-opens-small-baby-unit-rockford/

Woloshyn, E. (2017, April 20). Special unit mimics mother’s womb. Health enews.

http://www.ahchealthenews.com/2017/04/20/special-unit-mimics-mothers-womb/  Posted by AHA Resource Center (312) 422-2050 rc@aha.org