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Why are babies placed in the NICU?

How does a baby end up in the NICU?
Submitted by American Baby Team

Most of us think the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) is for preemies only, but newborn babies with all kinds of health problems are cared for there. Full-term newborns who've had surgery, suffer from an infection from their mother, had low Apgar scores, or went through a rough delivery are also NICU babies. If your doctor knows you're a candidate for a high-risk birth, he may have a team from the NICU present at your delivery to administer emergency care and take your baby there immediately.

Originally published in American Baby magazine, November 2006. Updated 2009

The answers from our experts are for educational purposes only. Please always refer to your child's pediatrician and mental health expert for more in-depth advice.

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A child can be placed in the NICU for multiple reasons the leading reason is for prematurity. A baby born before 37 weeks has not reached term and may need to stay in the NICU briefly or for a long stay. Babies in the NICU can be gestational age 21/22 weeks and higher. It is dependent on the hospital's ethics. Other reasons children can be placed in the NICU are for complications during delivery such as an unreassuring heart rate, poor breathing, meconium aspiration, and drug addiction.
Submitted by CPSY212