Newborn Medicine | Clinical

  • Neonatal Intensive Care Unit
  • St. Louis Children's Hospital
  • Barnes-Jewish Hospital
  • Antenatal Consultation Service
  • Newborn Follow-up Program
  • Missouri Baptist Medical Center
  • Specialized Clinical Services
  • Newborn Medicine Practice Opportunity
  • Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia (CDH) clinic

Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)

The birth of a child is always an amazing and exciting experience. Expectant parents often dream of the day when their beautiful, perfect baby will be born. Sometimes, complications can occur for mother or baby before, during, or after the delivery, and the baby must receive intensive care. Parents may discover during the pregnancy that their baby is at risk for certain complications (for example, a birth defect like spina bifida is found by ultrasound before delivery or a genetic disease is known to run in the family), or complicatoins may arise late in pregnancy (for example, toxemia or preeclampsia) or during delivery.

Whether your child is born prematurely, suffers from a medical condition, or has a birth defect, the experts at St. Louis Children's Hospital's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) are ready to provide the very best possible care 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The 75 bed NICU provides state of the art treatment and monitoring equipment, including ECMO (a heart lung machine that can be used temporarily to permit recovery when acute heart and/or lung failure occurs), surfactant therapy (a medicine that helps prematurely born babies to breath more easily), and high frequency oscillatory ventilation (a type of breathing machine that is necessary for some infants to help their lungs develop and heal). The unit is staffed by specially trained physicians and nurses and also includes pediatric residents and neonatal fellows (physicians who are specializing in treating children and treating sick newborns). In addition, nationally known surgical and medical specialists, including heart specialists, brain specialists, spinal cord specialists, kidney specialists, and many others, are available to consult on any problem that arises for your baby. All of the physicians and nurses take special interest in insuring that each infant is receiving the proper medications, including pain relief medicines and sedation. A pharmacist is available in the NICU to ensure proper dosing of medicines and selection of drugs. Portable radiologic and diagnostic equipment is used when clinically feasible to reduce the need to move medically fragile patients for tests.

The NICU nursing staff are registered nurses who have an average of 5 years of nursing experience and have completed a seven week orientation program. Clinical nurse specialsts who have Masters Degrees and extensive neonatal experience and training are also very involved in both the clinical care of infants and in nursing education, research, and administration in the NICU.

Parents are encouraged to visit their baby whenever they can (24 hours a day, 7 days a week). Parents may bring siblings to visit new brothers or sisters after your baby's nurse is sure that the sibling does not have a contagious disease. Parents are asked to provide a list of other relatives or friends who have permission to visit their baby. Because of space limitations, we request that each baby have only two visitors in the NICU at any time. Parent waiting rooms are available just outside the NICU for visitors to wait.

In the NICU are two family participation rooms where parents may room in overnight with their child before she or he is discharged to gain confidence in feeding, giving medicines, handling special equipment, and gaining confidence with their baby. A parent lounge is also available which provides parents with beds, lockers, shower, and bathroom facilities.

As your new baby grows stronger and healthier, we want your stay to be as comfortable and pleasant as possible. Parents are encouraged to ask questions, make requests, become involved in discharge planning, and learn all they can about the care and treatment of their baby.

A parent support group of veteran parents is available to provide families with advice and support throughout their baby's stay. Full-time social workers are also available to facilitate parental coping.

Our NICU has recently begun a series of staged renovations which will result in the coming years in many improvements for both babies and families. Lighting that can be individualized for each baby, carpeting to reduce noise, more breast feeding rooms, and private sleeping rooms for mothers are just a few of the planned changes.

We want to provide your baby with whatever she or he needs to have the best possible outcome. We want to help you meet all the needs of your special baby.

St. Louis Children's Hospital

The Division of Newborn Medicine faculty provides clinical coverage for the 75 bed neonatal intensive care unit at St. Louis Children's Hospital. The recently expanded NICU has 36 single occupancy rooms with 2 additional family units (FPU). This unit provides all neonatal services, including evaluation for solid organ transplantation extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, and a full spectrum of surgical and medical subspecialty consultants. The NICU has approximately 750 admissions and 20,000 patient days per year.

Barnes-Jewish Hospital

The Division faculty provide clinical coverage for the Special Care Nursery, the high-risk delivery service, and the mother-baby nursery at the adjacent . The obstetrical service delivers approximately 4000 babies per year and physicians from Newborn Medicine attend approximately 40% of the them. The Special Care Nursery has approximately 600 admissions and 5500 patient days per year.

Antenatal Consultation Service

The Division faculty provides outpatient and inpatient antenatal consultation services in collaboration with the Division of Maternal Fetal Medicine, Genetics, and Ultrasound of the Department of Obstetrics. Patients with high risk pregnancies are referred by obstetricians for multidisciplinary consultations with Newborn Faculty members as well as faculty from other relevant divisions (e.g., Pediatric Cardiology, Pediatric General Surgery, Pediatric Urology, etc.). In addition, families have the opportunity to tour the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, arrange lodging, and discuss directed donor blood transfusions. The Division sees approximately 150 families as outpatients and approximately 1000 as inpatients annually.

Newborn Follow-up Program

The Division faculty provides follow up services for infants discharged from one of these units as well as for infants referred for consultation by pediatricians, family practitioners, or nurse practitioners. A full range of follow up services is available, including developmental testing, ophthalmologic and audiologic testing, and pediatric consultant services. The Follow-up Program sees approximately 850 children per year. Although the clinic meets every Thursday, faculty are available on any day to see consultations in coordination with other subspecialty visits.

Missouri Baptist Medical Center

The Division faculty provides clinical coverage for the Special Care Nursery and delivery services at Missouri Baptist Medical. In addition, the Division collaborates closely with Obstetrics faculty members to provide antenatal consultation at this site. The obstetrical service delivers approximately 4000 babies per year and physicians from Newborn Medicine attend approximately 25% of the them. The Special Care Nursery has approximately 350 admissions and 3500 patient days per year .

Progress West Medical Center

The Division faculty provides back up coverage for the newborn nursery and delivery services at Progress West Hospital, a level I care facility and a recent addition to the BJ Heathcare. Infants requiring care are transported to Missouri Baptist Medical Center or to SLCH. 

Specialized Clinical Services

The Division currently has the largest experience in the world with infants with inherited causes of respiratory failure, including surfactant protein-B deficiency and ABCA3 deficiency (Jennifer Wambach, MD, MS and F. Sessions Cole, MD ). The neonatal intensive care unit at St. Louis Children's Hospital is also experienced in evaluation of infants for solid organ transplantation, including heart, lung, and liver transplantation. Faculty members (Bradley Thach, M.D.) have extensive experience in understanding methods for reducing frequency of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Drs. Terrie Inder and Amit Mathur are leading experts in neonatal brain imaging and newborn brain development. In addition, the newborn brain symposium is organized every two years by the division and conducts workshops and provides updates in neonatal neurology.

The division also offers long term follow up for patients with congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH) once a month on Thursdays. It is a  multidisciplinary cooperative effort including pediatric surgery and newborn medicine faculty (Dr Tasnim Najaf) that provides long term follow up for these infants.

The Division maintains an active neonatal database and is a member of the Vermont-Oxford Network (VON) and the emerging Children’s Hospitals Corporation of America (CHCA) neonatal collaborative. The Division provides other educational opportunities through webcasts of Divisional meetings, regional conferences, informal presentations, or practitioner participation in clinical services. These opportunities can be developed and arranged through  SLCH Physician Services.

The Division has experience in international clinical and research collaborations, including the Netherlands, Italy, Australia, and New Zealand. In addition, Dr Joan Downey and other Washington University / SLCH sub-specialists visit Juticalpa, Honduras annually to provide multidisciplinary evaluations and care for infants and children, some who come to St Louis Children’s Hospital for treatment. This is a Washington University School of Medicine Pediatrics Away Rotation.

Newborn Medicine Practice Opportunity

St Louis Children’s Hospital is consistently ranked in the top 10 children’s hospital in the country and is affiliated with the Washington University School of Medicine, the most selective medical school in the US, and offers unique opportunities for patient care, research, and education. For more information, click here .

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