The Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center provides the highest level of care available to premature and critically ill newborns. As a Level IV newborn intensive care unit, the NICU is staffed by highly skilled physicians, nurses and other staff who offer advanced therapies in an atmosphere of compassion and concern. As part of the Perinatal Institute at Cincinnati Children’s, the NICU is a regional referral center for premature and critically ill newborns.

The NICU cares for babies who have complex medical conditions requiring pediatric subspecialty care. Babies who need intensive care but do not require subspecialty care are typically admitted to one of Cincinnati’s two other newborn intensive care units, Good Samaritan Hospital or University of Cincinnati Medical Center, or to Kettering Medical Center in Dayton. Our neonatologists work in collaboration with these hospitals to support their NICUs.

A Reputation for Excellence

Each year, more than 700 critically ill newborns are transferred to our NICU for specialty care. They come from 16 local birthing hospitals as well as from hospitals in other parts of the country, from emergency rooms and even from home.

The NICU’s dedicated, multidisciplinary team is known for its expertise in areas such as:

  • Identifying potential medical concerns as early as possible  to ensure the best possible outcome for critically ill infants
  • Providing extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), a heart-lung bypass system, to help babies experiencing respiratory and cardiac failure; Cincinnati Children’s is a designated ECMO center, with staff specially trained in providing this advanced therapy.
  • Treating babies with congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH), a condition in which the abdominal organs push through a hole in the diaphragm, affecting lung development
  • Providing highly specialized surgery to reconstruct defective airways, repair bowel obstructions and correct other serious problems
  • Offering immediate care for babies with jaundice, a potentially serious condition
  • Conducting clinical research designed to better understand and treat conditions affecting newborns who are born prematurely or with critical illnesses

A Dedicated, Multidisciplinary Team

Neonatologists (physicians specializing in the care of critically ill babies) provide leadership for the NICU’s core medical team, which also includes pediatric and fetal surgeons, specially trained nurses, therapists, nutritionists, pharmacists and social workers.

Other specialists, including cardiologists, urologists, neurosurgeons and many others, are available as needed. As many as 30 team members participate in daily rounds in the NICU, all of them working together to care for babies with complex medical needs.

Support for Families

The physicians, nurses and other health professionals in our NICU regard parents as an integral part of the care team. They encourage them to ask questions, share their observations and make suggestions to enhance the NICU experience for both babies and families.

Our nurse educators help parents care for their baby’s needs while in the NICU, which can foster parent-child bonding and prepare the family for life after intensive care. Lactation consultants meet regularly with mom and baby to create a positive breastfeeding experience. In addition, our social workers and chaplains offer extensive support to help families cope with the emotional strain of having a critically ill child.

Follow-Up Care

When babies are discharged home from the NICU, follow-up care is essential to their health and well-being. The Perinatal Institute at Cincinnati Children’s provides a comprehensive follow-up program for these high-risk infants. Learn more about the Newborn Intensive Care Follow-up Clinic.