NICU Glossary of Terms
Very small sacs in the lungs where carbon dioxide and oxygen are exchanged in the blood stream.
A decrease in the number of red blood cells (RBCs). RBCs carry oxygen to the tissues.
When breathing decreases or stops. If this occurs with bradycardia, it is often called As & Bs.
Arterial Blood Gas (ABG)
Blood test from an artery to determine the amount of carbon dioxide and oxygen.
The byproduct of broken-down red blood cells.
BPD (Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia)
A condition of prematurity resulting from being on a ventilator or requiring oxygen for a long time. This is a reversible condition that goes away in approximately two years. The baby may have a difficult time with colds and have asthma-like symptoms.
Slower than normal heart rate that often accompanies apnea.
A doctor who specializes in the heart and circulation.
CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation)
A way to revive someone who has stopped breathing or whose heart has stopped. Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital offers a free class called "Baby Saver" to all parents with babies in the NICU. See your infant's nurse for details.
A test that takes pictures of the body similar to an X-ray; however, it gives a 3-D view of the body.
CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure)
Pressurized air mixed with oxygen is administered through nasal prongs to aid breathing and to help keep the lungs expanded.
Endotracheal Tube (ET Tube)
An ET tube is a very small plastic tube in the baby's windpipe, attached to the ventilator, that keeps the airway open and delivers air and oxygen.
A process of removing the ET tube.
A baby whose gestational age is between 37 and 42 weeks.
GER (Gastroesophageal Reflux)
A condition in which contents of the stomach are forced back up through the esophagus and into the mouth.
Feedings given through a very small flexible tube from the mouth or nose down into the stomach.
The period of time since the mother's last menstrual period to the time the baby is born, usually expressed in weeks.
A form of sugar that circulates throughout the body and is used for energy.
Pricking the heel of the foot to get small amounts of blood for tests.
A level of glucose in the blood that is too low.
The mental and physical progress of the baby.
Nourishment taken into the body by IV fluids, breast or bottle feedings.
Fluids going into a vein through a plastic tube.
IVH (Intraventricular Hemorrhage)
Bleeding into the brain that occurs in some premature babies because the blood vessels are very fragile. The doctor will grade it on a scale of one to four, depending on the severity.
The process of inserting an endotracheal tube into the windpipe.
A sticky substance produced in the mucus membranes.
NEC (Necrotizing Enterocolitis)
A severe problem in the intestines. There are many causes of NEC, and it most commonly occurs in preemies. However, it can also occur in any infant who has complications. The baby will not be given food until the intestines have healed and will be given nutrients through an IV.
The yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes caused by too much bilirubin in the blood. Very common in newborns, this is a harmless condition as long as it is treated.
Nothing by mouth.
Any fluid or stool that leaves the body.
PDA (Patent Ductus Arteriosus)
After a baby is born and the umbilical cord is tied, the baby changes from fetal circulation to infant circulation and certain valves close. If the baby has complications or is stressed, one of the valves in the heart may not close or may reopen. The doctors will attempt to close the valve with medication, but if medication is not effective, surgery may be necessary.
Pauses in breathing for up to 10 seconds.
PICC Line (Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter)
An IV inserted into a vein and threaded until it reaches the heart. It is inserted if the baby needs IV fluids or medication.
Bright lights used to treat jaundice. This may be done with a spotlight, biliblanket or a combination of both.
An infection in the lungs that causes an increase in fluid, making it harder for the baby to breathe. Antibiotics are used to treat the infection.
RDS (Respiratory Distress Syndrome)
A condition that causes difficulty breathing for a newborn. This is diagnosed by X-ray.
ROP (Retinopathy of Prematurity)
Babies who are born very prematurely can develop ROP, which occurs when the back of the eye is damaged. The eye doctor examines all premature babies to check for ROP and measures severity of damage to reveal how much the sight has been affected.
A short period of increased nerve activity. The cause varies with each baby.
An infection in the baby's blood that affects the whole body. The infection is treated with antibiotics.