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Our neonatal experts provide care for the tiniest or seriously ill infants. Each year, our neonatal intensive care unit – or NICU – treats more than 500 premature and critically ill babies with complex medical and surgical problems.

Photo of Dr. John Pardalos caring for an infant in the NICU.

In fact, we’re the only hospital in the central Missouri area that offers subspecialist expertise for NICU care. You can trust our team of world-class neonatologists and staff, who will treat you and your baby with understanding, sensitivity and expertise.

Comprehensive services

The NICU team offers state-of-the-art, comprehensive Level III NICU services. Level III NICUs provide subspecialty newborn care for infants born at less than 32 weeks' gestation and for babies with critical illness, born at any gestational age. Among the conditions we treat:

  • Respiratory distress syndrome
  • Patent ductus arteriosus
  • Sepsis
  • Neonatal encephalopathy
  • A host of birth defects, including but not limited to
    • Gastroschisis
    • Omphalocele
    • Tracheo-esophageal fistula
    • Neural tube defects (meningomyelocele and encephalocele)
    • Posterior urethral valves
    • Exstrophy of the bladder

Our highly skilled, multidisciplinary team of health care professionals includes:

  • Advanced practice nurses
  • Pharmacists
  • Neonatologists
  • Respiratory care practitioners
  • Social workers 
  • Specially trained nurses

Depending on the needs of the baby, the NICU team also works with a range of pediatric specialists such as cardiologists, surgeons, infectious disease experts, otolaryngologists, pulmonologists, endocrinologists, radiologists, nephrologists and hematologists.

For instance, the team has successfully performed an ex utero intrapartum treatment, also called an EXIT procedure, with pediatric otolaryngologists and plastic surgeons. This procedure is used to deliver babies who have airway anomalies or tumors of the airway or neck.

Family centered care

The NICU team believes in partnering with families, including visiting with them daily to answer questions and talk about the progress of treatment plans. These rounds include all of the specialists involved in the baby's care.

Our child health ophthalmologists screen premature babies for retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics and our retinal surgeons can treat ROP if needed.

The NICU follow-up clinic located at the Thompson Center monitors growth and development of babies discharged from the NICU. The clinic provides comprehensive services under the leadership of a developmental pediatrician and a Children’s Therapy team.

Prenatal counseling

The NICU team partners with maternal and fetal medicine specialists to counsel women with high-risk pregnancies and then care for their babies with complex congenital anomalies in the NICU.

This counseling involves explaining what to expect after their baby is born. Families need emotional support during this time, and we can offer this through our Journey’s team and our NICU social worker.

Trusted neonatal transport team

Each year, our neonatal transport team helps approximately 350 premature or critically ill babies from other health care facilities get to our NICU when they need it most. The transport team consists of specially trained nurses and respiratory care practitioners whose main focus is to quickly transport babies under 15 pounds so they can get the care they need.

NICU lactation consultants

When infants are born prematurely or with special health conditions, mothers and babies might need personalized help with breastfeeding. Our lactation consultants work alongside parents, feeding therapists and the NICU team to provide early feeding assessment to help ensure successful feeding development.

The goal is to improve early bonding and communication as parents learn to read their baby’s cues and respond in a timely, gentle way. The team, led by the lactation consultant, regularly meets with parents to provide ongoing support and teaching at each stage of lactation and feeding development.