The Penn State Children’s Hospital Approach to Neonatal Intensive Care

The neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Penn State Children’s Hospital offers specialized care for babies and compassionate support for their families. Our current 42-bed NICU cares for premature babies or full-term babies with medical complications. As a regional referral center, our NICU is the only in central Pennsylvania to offer a full range of neonatal services – including the ability to perform surgery on-site 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Our team cares for nearly 600 babies each year.

Our commitment to care continues long after your child leaves the NICU at Penn State Children’s Hospital. We are one of the few programs in the region with a NICU Neurodevelopmental follow-up clinic, which tracks the developmental and medical progress of former high-risk NICU patients. Our team helps to coordinate specialty care with other physicians at Penn State Children’s Hospital.

Commitment to NICU Technology

We pride ourselves on being at the forefront of neonatal care technology. We are home to the only extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) center in the region. This heart and lung support system acts as an artificial lung and heart to oxygenate blood in the sickest of term babies with severe respiratory failure, resistant to medical therapy, allowing the baby’s lungs to rest and heal.

Our NICU is also equipped with a specialized ventilator called neurally adjusted ventilatory assist (NAVA). It is a device that uses electrical signals generated by the baby’s diaphragm to control ventilation.

Other advanced technologies in the Penn State Children’s Hospital NICU include:

  • Therapeutic hypothermia, a cooling treatment that may help reduce the risk of brain injury in babies who have been deprived of oxygen
  • High-frequency oscillatory ventilation for babies with severe respiratory failure
  • High-frequency jet ventilation for extremely immature newborns with respiratory failure
  • Sophisticated brain assessment through continuous electroencephalogram (EEG) monitoring
  • Nitric oxide, a special gas that relaxes pulmonary arteries in babies with pulmonary hypertension
  • Bubble continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), a non-invasive method of ventilation for premature babies that do not need to be on a ventilator

Babies with congenital heart defects have access to Penn State Children’s Heart Group, a regional center of excellence in the care of children with heart disease. Newborns with congenital defects of the lungs, intestines, kidneys, and other organs, and newborns with surgical problems have around-the-clock access to Pediatric Surgeons.

Why Choose Penn State Children’s Hospital for NICU Care

Penn State Children’s Hospital has a steadfast commitment to quality, safety, and using the most up-to-date treatments and technology to provide the best care. As a member of several national, multicenter organizations focused on safety, our dedicated team is involved with ongoing initiatives to improve outcomes. We are a member of the Vermont Oxford Network, a collaboration of NICUs around the world with the shared goal of improving outcomes for sick newborns. Additionally, many of the neonatologists and members of the Division of Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine are recognized as renowned researchers. We have expertise in research about neonatal abstinence syndrome (babies addicted to drugs while in the womb), neonatal hypoglycemia, neonatal brain injury, neonatal lung disease, necrotizing enterocolitis (a condition where infants have impaired gastrointestinal function), and assessment of risk of developing poor long-term outcomes.

U.S. News & World Report has recognized Penn State Children’s Hospital specialties with top rankings, including neonatologypediatric cardiologypediatric cancerpediatric nephrology and pediatric pulmonology and lung surgery. You can see all of our awards and recognitions here.

Comprehensive NICU Support Team

Our family-centered approach to care includes a NICU team that holistically supports your child and your family. In addition to our neonatologists and NICU nurses, our support team includes:

  • Advance practice providers (neonatal nurse practitioners and physician assistants)
  • Clinical pharmacists specializing in pediatrics and neonatology pharmaceuticals
  • Dieticians specializing in infant nutritional needs
  • Respiratory therapists to manage ventilators
  • Social workers, care coordinators, and chaplains
  • Speech therapists, who help with oral feeding problems
  • Occupational therapists and physical therapists

Nationally Recognized Care

Penn State Children’s Hospital is routinely ranked among the best children’s hospitals in the nation because of our focus on patient care, safety, and research. U.S. News & World Report has recognized Penn State Children’s Hospital specialties with top rankings, including neonatology, pediatric cardiology, pediatric cancer, pediatric nephrology and pediatric pulmonology and lung surgery. You can see all of our awards and recognitions here.

Conditions Treated

The Penn State Children’s Hospital NICU provides care for babies born with medical conditions, including:

  • Acute kidney injury
  • Anemia
  • Apnea
  • Bradycardia
  • Bronchopulmonary dysplasia
  • Cleft palate and lip
  • Complex congenital heart disease
  • Congenital diaphragmatic hernia
  • Congenital anomalies and chromosomal abnormalities
  • Hydrocephalus
  • Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy
  • Intraventricular hemorrhage
  • Jaundice/hyperbilirubinemia
  • Metabolic disorders/Inborn errors of metabolism
  • Necrotizing enterocolitis
  • Neonatal abstinence syndrome
  • Neonatal hypoglycemia
  • Neonatal platelet disorders
  • Neurodevelopmental disorders
  • Newborn resuscitation
  • Patent ductus arteriosus
  • Periventricular leukomalacia
  • Prematurity
  • Pulmonary hypertension
  • Respiratory distress syndrome
  • Retinopathy of prematurity
  • Seizures
  • Sepsis
  • Transient tachypnea of the newborn
  • Urinary tract infection

Our Convenient Locations

Find the care your family needs, close to home, at one of our many locations throughout central Pennsylvania.

Find a Location Near You