The Levels of Neonatal Care

Newborn babies go through a series of assessments to ensure everything’s normal. Learn how hospitals categorize the levels of neonatal care.

Newborn babies, sometimes called neonates, undergo different health assessments to ascertain their well-being. There are no exceptions for healthy neonates. Babies born too early or with complications need more thorough and specialized neonatal care. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) categorizes neonatal care and treatment levels in United States hospitals. Each level of neonatal care corresponds to the proper medication that newborn babies need. The higher the neonatal care level, the more specialized it is. 

If you’re worried about the risk of preterm delivery or newborn complications, it’s essential to know the levels of neonatal care. 

The four levels of neonatal care

Level 1: Wellborn nursery

The first and basic neonatal care level is the wellborn nursery, also known as the well-baby nursery. The level 1 unit is capable of providing the following care: 

  • Provide neonatal resuscitation every delivery 
  • Assess and provide postnatal care to newborn babies 
  • Stabilize stable newborn babies at 35 to 37 weeks gestation 
  • Stabilize newborn babies who are born less than 35 weeks gestation and are ill 
  • The wellborn nursery usually comprises healthcare providers such as pediatricians, nurse practitioners, and family physicians. 

Level 2: Special care nursery

The next level of neonatal care is the special care nursery or sometimes called special care nurseries. It has the same capabilities as level 1 neonatal care but requires pediatric hospitalists, neonatologists, and neonatal nurse practitioners. Level 2 units can: 

  • Care for premature infants within 32 gestational weeks 
  • For infants with underdeveloped immune systems
  • For newborn babies with moderate to severe illnesses 
  • Infants requiring ventilation or continued care 

Level 3: Neonatal intensive care (NICU)

After level 2 comes level 3, the neonatal intensive care or NICU.  They must have pediatric surgeons, pediatric medical subspecialists, pediatric anesthesiologists, and pediatric ophthalmologists. This type of nursery has teams of health care providers who: 

  • Provide comprehensive care for infants with serious illnesses delivered at all gestational ages and birth weights
  • Perform advanced imaging with immediate interpretation
  • Provide an extensive range of respiratory assistance

Level 4: Regional neonatal intensive care unit (Regional NICU) 

The highest level of neonatal intensive care is the Level 4 NICU. In addition to the care providers required for Level III units, these units must include pediatric surgical subspecialists on staff. Level 1, 2, and 3 NICUs have the same capabilities as regional NICUs. The regional neonatal intensive care unit provides the following: 

  • On-site pediatric medical subspecialists, pediatric surgical subspecialists, and pediatric anesthesiologists
  • Services for transporting patients from the hospital to their homes
  • Are housed at a facility with the capability of performing complex congenital or acquired conditions surgically

About Millennium Medical Group

Millennium Medical Group provides top-notch neonatal care for newborn babies and vulnerable mothers. We take pride in delivering consistent, continuous care to achieve the highest quality of service possible. 

Want to consult with the best neonatal care in the United States? Visit our website or get in touch with us at 855-222-9637.

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