Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)

Neonatal Intensive Care Unit NICU
Children's National's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

Our dedicated team includes neonatal specialists in neurology, neurophysiologists, neuroradiologists, and EEG (electroencephalography). As well, your infant has access to physicians at Children's National from more than 40 pediatric medical and surgical subspecialties. 

Whether your infant arrived prematurely or has a critical illness, our team assists in coordinating every service you and your baby needs, including consultations, assessments, emergency treatments, and continuing care.

Our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit is the only Level IV Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) in Washington, DC, which is the highest level designated by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Our NICU is a primary neonatal referral center for more than 40 hospitals throughout the region.

The Most Advanced Care for Our Smallest Patients

The NICU is associated with the Division of Neonatology, ranked among the top ten programs of its kind by U.S.News & World Report. 

The NICU provides advanced neonatal intensive care for critically ill infants and premature newborns up to 3 months of age. Our team coordinates all aspects of care for associated complications and conditions, including:

Specialized NICU programs ensure that every baby receives the most advanced care specific to the condition and infant:

  • Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) Program. A modified form of heart and lung bypass complemented by state-of-the art therapeutic programs for respiratory failure, including nitric oxide and high frequency ventilation
  • Neuroprotection Program. Among the program’s services, the Neuroprotection program offers whole-body cooling for hypoxic brain injury
  • Neonatal Nutrition Program. Two full-time neonatal nutrition experts work closely with the NICU medical team to evaluate all factors affecting the growth and nutrition of infants
  • Neonatal Pharmaceutical Monitoring Program.The program manages a dedicated, full-time neonatal pharmacy

When your baby is ready to leave the NICU, the Neonatal High Risk Follow-up Clinic, headed by Penny Glass, PhD, evaluates NICU graduates in an outpatient setting.

One of our strengths is the collaboration with Neurology and Radiology in the brain protection program. Children's National established the first neonatal neuro-intensive care program in the mid-Atlantic region. 

Two full-time neonatal neurologists round with the neonatal team to treat patients with neurologic concerns. Children's has one of the largest whole-body cooling programs for infants with hypoxic brain injury (trauma depriving the brain of enough oxygen), and is the only hospital in the area with a MRI-compatible incubator. 

Under the supervision of a pediatric neuroradiologist, the MRI-compatible incubator allows us to safely transport and image the brains of our premature infants and sickest newborns. 

Family-Centered Care

One of the major strengths of the NICU is the family-centered approach to care. The NICU Family-Centered Task Force collaborates with the NICU Parent Advisory Council to addresses the needs of our parents while their infant is in the NICU. Parents even helped to redesign our NICU, which opened in 2009. Family-Centered features of the NICU:

  • Private patient rooms
  • Rocking chairs 
  • Sleep rooms for parents with private bath, washer and dryer
  • Soft lighting, a best practice in care for neonates
  • Waiting areas for families and a sibling play zone

Jeremiah's Story

"Through the ups and downs and the uncertainty of what was to come, I asked questions. The surgical team was available to personally answer my questions."

Read More of Jeremiah's Story