Highest Level of NICU Achieved by North Central Baptist Hospital

Jun 4, 2019

San Antonio, TX – North Central Baptist Hospital recently earned NICU Level IV designation for its ability to care for the youngest and sickest newborns. There are only 20 hospitals in Texas with Level IV NICU designation.

parent holding baby's hand in NICUMost pregnancies go well, without complications, and most moms give birth to full term, healthy babies. But if there are pregnancy complications that could affect the health of the baby, or if the baby has a condition that needs specialized medical care at birth, babies need a higher level of care, something a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit can provide.

“This is important for families in our area,” said Mary Wearden, MD, North Central Baptist Hospital NICU Medical Director. “Having Level IV designation means that we can care for babies with complex issues, and keep them close to home.”

The NICU at North Central Baptist Hospital has 115 nurses and 21 support teams. 900 babies have been cared for in the NICU at North Central so far this year. The smallest baby was only 14 ounces. The youngest baby was born at only 22 weeks.

There are four levels of NICU care. Level IV NICU’s are the highest level and offer the most acute care for babies as young as 22 weeks. Level IV Neonatal Intensive Care Units have clinical teams who take care of pre-term babies, babies who need special care or surgery for birth defects and other disorders. These nurseries have a full range of health care providers including pediatric subspecialists, specialized nurses and equipment to care for very sick babies.

Every year 15 million babies are born preterm (before 37 weeks). Preterm birth complications are the leading cause of death among children under 5 years of age. Ten to 15% of babies born in the US, or about 500,000, will end up in a NICU due to prematurity, genetic defect or illness.

Certain pregnancy complications may require a higher level of care for your baby after birth. Some of these include:

  • Serious chronic medical conditions, including heart disease and severe obesity
  • High blood pressure, diabetes, kidney problems, heart problems, HIV/AIDS and bleeding disorders
  • Having a premature baby in the past. A premature baby is one who is born too early, before 37 weeks of pregnancy.
  • Having a low-birthweight baby in the past. Low birthweight is when a baby is born weighing less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces.
  • Having a baby with a birth defect in the past
  • Being pregnant with a baby with a birth defect or other health condition
  • Being pregnant with multiples (twins, triplets or more)
  • Being physically or sexually abused
  • Being addicted to drugs

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