Apgar score A simple way of assessing a baby’s health, immediately after birth, by scoring ‘points’ for heart rate, breathing, skin colour, tone, and the baby’s reactions. (Bliss)
Apnoea Short temporary periods of time when a baby stops breathing and requires gentle stimulation to remind them to breathe.
Arterial line A tube put into a major artery which is used to give fluids and medication and sometimes used to monitor blood pressure (BP). Blood might also be taken out of an arterial line for testing.
Aspiration The withdrawal of fluid from the body using a syringe attached to the end of a tube. This is often done to remove any remaining stomach contents prior to a feed. The amount of aspirate gives an indication as to whether the baby is tolerating their feeds.
Bagging Putting a mask connected to a squeezable bag or oxygen supply over the baby’s nose and mouth to help breathing. (Bliss)
Biliblanket A way of providing phototherapy to treat jaundice.
Bilirubin The yellow pigment in blood which gives a yellow colouring to the skin which is associated with jaundice.
Blood gases Blood taken regularly to measure the oxygen and carbon dioxide content of the blood. The purpose of this is to work out how well the lungs and circulation are functioning.
Blood glucose The level of glucose (sugar) contained in the blood.
Blood transfusion The giving of donor blood via a drip into a vein or artery, usually to treat anaemia
Bolus A volume of fluid given all at once instead of over a longer period of time.
Bradycardia (brady) When a baby’s heart beat slows to less than 90 beats per minute. For some babies (for example those who are being ‘cooled’) the heart rate is often lower than normal. Check with the nurse or doctor caring for your baby
Brain scan This can be done by using ultrasound, X Rays (called CT Scan) or magnetic resonance (called MR) to create a picture of the brain in order to gain information about it. (Bliss)
Breast pump A piece of equipment which can be used to express breast milk. It can be a manual device or an electronic piece of equipment.
Caffeine A drug commonly given to stimulate a baby and reduce any apnoea and bradycardia episodes
Candida (‘Thrush’) A yeast infection of skin and mucus membranes (mouth, digestive or genital tracts.) (Bliss)
Cannula A small hollow plastic tube that is inserted into a blood vessel using a needle. It can be used to give medicines on an intermittent basis or attached to a drip for a continuous infusion
Cardiac echo A picture of a baby’s heart which is captured using an ultrasound machine.
Cardiac monitor A machine used to measure a baby’s heart rate.
Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) The process of re-establishing a heart rate and breathing.
Centile charts Graphs showing the normal ranges of body measurements at different ages. (Bliss)
Central line An intravenous line that goes in a vein to a location close to the heart.
Chest drain Tube passed through the chest wall to drain off air leaking from the lung. (Bliss)
Chronic lung disease (CLD) A condition which causes difficulty in breathing and may require oxygen support. A common condition in premature babies.
Chronological age A baby’s age from the actual date of birth. (Bliss)
Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) A type of ventilation that provides a baby with oxygen. This is given under pressure through a baby’s nose.
Cooling – (also known as Therapeutic Hyp A specialist treatment used in some neonatal intensive care units for babies who may have been deprived of oxygen around the time of birth
Corrected age The age a baby would be had they been born on their due date.
Cyanosis A lack of oxygen in the blood, which makes the skin, lips and nails appear bluish. (Bliss)
Developmental Care Is used in neonatal units to reduce the stress of the NICU experience on premature babies. Developmental Care includes many different practices to decrease the stress on premature babies including correct positioning, kangaroo care, reducing the noise and light levels a baby is exposed to, feeding issues and parent involvement.
Drip When fluids or blood are passed into a vein or artery, using a needle or plastic tube.
ECG (Electrocardiogram) A graph showing the electrical activity of the heart. (Bliss)
EEG (Electroencephalogram) A graph showing the brains electrical activity. (Bliss)
Electrolytes Essential substances in the body which, when dissolved, give solutions able to conduct electric current (eg table salt, sodium chloride, potassium chloride). (Bliss)
Endotracheal Within or through the windpipe (trachea).
Endotracheal Tube (ETT) A soft plastic tube inserted through the mouth or nose to the windpipe (trachea) which is then attached to a ventilator help breathing. (Bliss)
Exchange Transfusion Replacing the baby’s blood with blood from an adult donor. (Bliss)
Express A term used to describe the process of collecting breast milk in sterile bottles. This can be done by hand or by using a breast pump.
Extremely Low Birth Weight A baby weighing less than 1000 grams.
Extremely Premature Baby’s born between 24 – 28 weeks gestation.
Extubation The removal of the endotracheal tube (ETT) from the airway.
Eyelid Speculum A device used to hold eyelids open.
Fontanelle Soft spots on a baby’s head which dissappear as the bones grow together. (Bliss)
Full Term A baby born between 37 and 42 weeks gestation.
Gestational Age The length of the pregnancy from the last menstrual period until birth.
Grunting The noise made by a baby with breathing difficulty. (Bliss)
Guthrie Test / Neonatal Bloodspot Test A test completed for all newborn babies which screens for Phenylketonuria (PKU) & congenital hypothyroidism.
Haemoglobin The part of the red blood cells that carries oxygen. (Bliss)
Haemolytic Disease Happens when a mother’s blood cells attack her baby’s blood cells. This can happen when a woman who has a rhesus negative blood group has a baby that has a rhesus positive blood group. It only happens if the woman’s blood has previously come into contact with rhesus positive blood. This contact usually only occurs if she has previously given birth to a rhesus positive baby. Because of this, her first baby won’t usually be at risk of getting haemolytic disease.
Haemorrhage Bleeding.
Head Scans Also referred to as ‘cranial ultrasound scan’, this scan is performed to look inside the different parts of baby’s brain.
Hyaline membrane disease (HMD) A condition affecting some newborn infants in which the lungs are imperfectly expanded. Surfactant is frequently used to treat the condition.
Hydrocephalus A condition which means there is water on the brain which can cause rapid increase in head size.
Hypoglycaemia Abnormally low blood glucose level. (Bliss)
Hypothermia When the body temperatue drops below 35.5 degress Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit). (Bliss)
Hypoxia Abnormally low amount of oxygen in the body tissues. (Bliss)
Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE) Damage caused to the baby’s brain caused by severely reduced oxygen before or during birth. Treatment will likely include therapeutic hypothermia.(see Cooling)
Incubator A transparent boxlike bed where sick or preterm babies are observed and nursed. An incubator allows control of air temperature around the baby and provides some protection of the baby from infection.
Incubator Cover A large cover placed over the top of the incubator to protect the baby from light. The cover also muffles sound to reduce noise levels heard by the baby in the incubator.
Intravenous Infusion (‘drip’) Fluid or medicines given to a baby continually through a vein.
Neonate / Neonatal The name given to babies who are less than 28 days old.
O2 Oxygen.
Oedema Swelling caused by too much fluid in the tissues under the skin. (Bliss)
Oro Gastric Tube (OGT) A feeding tube inserted through a baby’s mouth down the oesophagus (food pipe) and into the stomach. Mainly used for feeding.
Parenteral Nutrition Supplying all the most important nutrients into a vein, by an infusion. (Bliss)
Patent Ductus Arterious (PDA) The condition where a blood vessel in the heart stays open after when it should have closed.
Perinatal The name referring to the time both before and after the birth.
Periodic Breathing When pauses of up to ten seconds take place in the baby’s breathing.
Periventricular Leucomalacia (PVL) Areas of cysts found in the brain.
pH Is about the acidity (low value) or alkalinity (raised value) of the blood. A value close to 7.4 is normal for arterial blood. (Bliss)
Phenylketonuria (PKU) This is a rare condition a baby inherits from both parents. Babies with PKU are unable to process a substance in their food called phenylalanine, and if left untreated, babies may develop serious medical complications. This condition is looked for on the newborn blood spot test.
Phototherapy An intense ultra violet light which can be used to help treat babies who have jaundice.
Physiotherapy Special exercises to improve or relieve physical problems. (Bliss)
Plasma Carries blood cells throughout the body and contains proteins and minerals. Some of the proteins help blood to clot.
Platelets Part of blood involved in clotting. May be given as a transfusion to babies who have clotting problems.
Pneumonia An infection found in the lungs.
Pneumothorax When there is air between the lung and chest wall if a lung has leaked air. (Bliss). If the air sacs in the lungs are damaged, air may leak in the lungs, particularly if the baby is being ventilated. Bubbles of air may form in the lung tissues or in the space around the lungs forming a pneumothorax. Large pockets of air might squash the lungs and make their work more difficult. If this happens a doctor may pass a small tube through the chest wall to let the air escape. This is known as a chest drain.
Posset When the baby spits up a small amount of milk after feeding.
Post Term The term given to babies born after 42 weeks of pregnancy.
Premature / Preterm The term given to babies before 37 weeks of pregnancy.
Pulse Oximetry A pulse oximeter is a small machine that measures the amount of oxygen in the blood. To obtain this measurement, a small sensor (like a plaster) is taped onto a finger or toe. When the machine is on, a small red light can be seen in the sensor. The sensor is painless and the red light does not get hot. This is also known as a saturation monitor.
Respiratory Distress Syndrome (RDS) See Hyaline membrane disease (HMD)
Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) Damage to the retina area of the eye that is sensitive to light; usually linked to the amount of oxygen in the blood reaching the retina. (Bliss)
Saturation (SpO2) The measurement of the amount of oxygen found in the blood.
Serum Bilirubin Level The level of jaundice found in the blood.
SGA (Small for Gestational Age) A baby whose birth weight is lower than that of 90% of babies of the same gestational age. (Bliss)
Suctioning Mechanical removal of fluid or air from the body (usually airways or stomach).
Surfactant A chemical that helps to ease or loosen the surface tension in the lungs, in order to stop the lung from collapsing when the baby breathes out. (Bliss)
Surfactant Deficient Lung Disease (also A lung disease common in babies who are born prematurely with reduced levels of surfactant. This leads to difficulty breathing and the baby may require extra breathing support to help.
Tachycardia Rapid heart beat.
Tachypnoea Rapid breathing rate.
Thrombus / thrombosis A bloodclot.
Total Parenteral Nutrition (TPN) see Parenteral Nutrition
TPR Refers to measurements taken to record Temperature, Pulse & Respiration.
Transient Tachypnoea of the Newborn (TTN A respiratory condition caused by fluid from the womb remaining in the baby’s lungs following birth.
Tube Feeding A means of feeding a baby. A baby can be fed milk through a fine plastic tube which goes through either the nose or the mouth directly into the stomach. See Naso Gastric Feeds (NG Feeds).
UAC Umbilical Artery Catheter.
Ultrasound A way of examining a baby’s internal organs. This is a painless procedure which allows the internal organs to be viewed on a screen, allowing doctors to diagnose conditions or problems.
Umbilical Catheter Refers to a tube which is inserted into a baby’s belly button (umbilicous) which can then be used to give feeds, take blood samples and monitor the baby.
UVC Umbilical Venous Catheter.
Ventilation The name given to describe that a machine is being used to help with breathing.
Ventilator The machine used to support a baby’s breathing. A machine is connected to a tube known as the Endotracheal Tube, which delivers oxygen to the baby.
Very Low Birth Weight Babies born weighing less than 1500 grams.
X-Rays A type of picture which can be taken of a baby’s body which can help identify problems (eg chest xray allows doctor’s to look at the lungs).