Terms & Equipment

Terms

Apnea and Bradycardia (A’s & B’s)

Apnea and Bradycardia (A’s & B’s)

Apnea is a pause in breathing that lasts longer than 15 seconds. Apnea sometimes leads to bradycardia, which is a decrease in heart rate. When apnea and bradycardia occur together, it is referred to as “A’s & B’s.” Apnea is common in premature infants and a normal part of their development.

Arterial Blood Gas (ABG)

Arterial Blood Gas (ABG)

An ABG is a test done on a small sample of blood to measure the levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide. The test results help NICU staff evaluate a baby’s breathing or adjust respirator support.

Anemia

Anemia

A common blood condition that occurs when the level of red blood cells in the blood is too low. Babies with anemia may need a blood transfusion if they are having respiratory distress or apnea.

Aspirate

Aspirate

The amount of breast milk or formula remaining in the stomach from the previous feeding.

Bilirubin (Bili)

Bilirubin (Bili)

Chemical released as the body breaks down old red blood cells. Elevated bilirubin level causes jaundice, a yellowing of the skin. This is very common in newborn infants. It is often treated with phototherapy (see below).

Chest X-ray

Chest X-ray

A radiologic image of the chest used to evaluate babies with respiratory distress (breathing difficulty).

Complete Blood Count (CBC)

Complete Blood Count (CBC)

A blood test to determine the number of red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets in the baby’s blood. Results are used to evaluate the infant for anemia or infection.

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP)

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP)

Airway pressure delivered through small prongs that fit into the nose. The extra pressure helps expand your baby’s lungs and makes breathing easier and more regular. CPAP may be used to treat respiratory distress or apnea.

Corrected Age

Corrected Age

Infant’s age, taking prematurity into account. It is calculated by adding gestational age at birth to the baby’s post-natal age in weeks. Often called post-menstrual age (PMA).

Extubate

Extubate

Remove an endotracheal tube and take a baby off a ventilator.

Gestational age

Gestational age

A newborn’s age from the first day of the mother’s last menstrual period to the date of delivery. A full-term infant has a gestational age of 37-41 weeks.

Heel Stick

Heel Stick

A blood sample that is obtained by pricking the baby’s heel.

Hematocrit

Hematocrit

A blood test to measure the concentration of red blood cells in the blood. Red blood cells carry oxygen. Low hematocrit is another definition of anemia.

Hyperal (Hyperalimentation or TPN)

Hyperal (Hyperalimentation or TPN)

An intravenous solution that provides supplemental nutrition, including protein, sugar, oil, minerals and vitamins to infants unable to tolerate a sufficient amount of milk.

Intubation

Intubation

Insertion of an endotracheal tube (ET tube) through the mouth or nose into the trachea (windpipe); used to administer surfactant (see below) or provide mechanical ventilation.

Intraventricular Hemorrhage (IVH)

Intraventricular Hemorrhage (IVH)

A condition which results from the rupture of fragile blood vessels within the brain of very premature infants. IVH is usually graded from 1 – 4 to describe the degree of severity. Very premature infants are evaluated with head ultrasound examinations to detect the presence of IVH.

Jaundice

Jaundice

Yellow color of the skin that appears when there is a high level of bilirubin in the blood; also known as hyperbilirubinemia.

Lumbar Puncture (LP)

Lumbar Puncture (LP)

A procedure to obtain a sample of spinal fluid to test for infection or bleeding. A tiny needle is inserted between two lumbar vertebrae in the lower portion of the back. It is similar to an “epidural” or “spinal” that you may have had during labor.

Meconium

Meconium

Your baby’s first bowel movements. Meconium is usually dark, green and sticky.

Necrotizing Entercolitis (NEC)

Necrotizing Entercolitis (NEC)

Inflammation of the intestinal tract (GI tract), sometimes associated with an infection. This is a very serious condition that may require antibiotics and surgery.

Neonate

Neonate

A newborn infant, up to 28 days of age.

O2

O2

An abbreviation for oxygen.

Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA)

Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA)

A heart condition that occurs when the ductus arteriosus fails to close after birth. The ductus arteriosus is an artery outside the heart which connects the aorta to the pulmonary artery and is important to the developing fetus. If it does not close, too much blood can flow to a baby’s lungs and cause respiratory difficulty. A PDA may require treatment with medication or surgery.

Phototherapy

Phototherapy

The specialized light (often blue in color) used to treat jaundice by lowering bilirubin level in the blood. Babies will have their eyes covered when phototherapy is used.

Pneumothorax

Pneumothorax

A condition resulting from the escape of air from the baby’s lungs into the chest cavity, compressing or collapsing the lung. Sometimes a “chest tube” needs to be inserted into the chest cavity to relieve the pressure.

Preemie

Preemie

An infant born before 37 weeks gestation.

Respiratory Distress Syndrome (RDS)

Respiratory Distress Syndrome (RDS)

Respiratory difficulty caused by the lack of a substance called surfactant, usually due to prematurity. Sometimes called Hyaline Membrane Disease (HMD) or surfactant deficiency.

Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP)

Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP)

ROP occurs when the growth of blood vessels in the retina of premature infants is disrupted. Babies less than 32 weeks gestation, or those weighing less than 1500 grams at birth, are routinely examined by a pediatric ophthalmologist, beginning at one month of age, to detect the presence of ROP.

Sepsis

Sepsis

Bacterial infection in the bloodstream.

Surfactant

Surfactant

A substance normally produced by mature lungs that helps keep the lungs inflated. There is also a manufactured substitute used as a medication to treat RDS in premature infants; it is administered to the baby through an endotracheal tube.

Transient Tachypnea of the Newborn (TTN)

Transient Tachypnea of the Newborn (TTN)

Respiratory difficulty usually milder than RDS, that begins soon after birth. It occurs when the fluid that normally fills a baby’s lungs before birth is not absorbed quickly into the blood stream.

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