Glossary of Neonatal Terms

A to Z Glossary for Neonatal Intensive Care
Select the first letter of the term

A

AB Spell

A pause in your baby's breathing, which then lowers his or her heart rate.

Anemia

Too few red blood cells.

Apnea

A pause in breathing for a short period. Common in premature babies.

B

Bilirubin

A pigment produced from the breakdown of red blood cells. When in excess, bilirubin appears as yellow skin known as jaundice.

Blood Gases

A blood test to check the level of oxygen, carbon dioxide and acidity.

Bradycardia

Slowing of the heart rate to lower than normal.

C

Carbon Dioxide (CO2)

Waste gas eliminated by the lungs.

Catheter

A plastic tube to put fluids into or to remove them from the body.

CPAP

Continuous positive airway pressure. This is continuous pressure applied to the lungs through a mask or endotracheal tube and helps the baby’s breathing.

E

Edema

Presence of too much fluid in body tissues causing a swollen appearance.

Endotracheal Tube

A tube inserted into the mouth to the windpipe to keep the airway open.

G

Gavage

Feeding by a tube passed through the mouth into the stomach.

Gestational Age

The time period in weeks from conception to delivery.

Glucose

Sugar.

H

Hematocrit

The concentration of red cells in blood.

Hyperalimentation

Nourishing the baby with a glucose, fat and protein solution through the veins. Also called Total Parenteral Nutrition (TPN).

Hypoglycemia

Blood sugar level below normal.

J

Jaundice

Yellow color in the skin from excess bilirubin.

M

Meconium

Dark greenish waste products that accumulate in the bowel during fetal life and are eliminated shortly after birth.

Meconium Aspiration

The condition in which the baby breathes in meconium that is in the amniotic fluid.

P

P02

Blood oxygen level.

Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA)

A blood vessel that allows blood to bypass the lungs. It should close shortly after birth.

pH

Amount of acid in the blood.

Phototherapy

Treatment of jaundice by use of special lights on the baby’s skin to breakdown the bilirubin.

Pulse Oximeter

A probe that wraps around a hand or foot, connected to a machine, which measures how much oxygen the blood is carrying.

S

Sepsis

Infection in the blood or other body tissues.

SGA

Small for gestational age; lower birth weight than expected for age.

Suction

Mechanical removal of mucous from the nose or throat or endotracheal tube with a plastic tube.

T

Transcutaneous Oxygen or Carbon Dioxide Monitor (TCOM)

A button-like probe placed on the baby’s skin to measure the amount of oxygen or carbon dioxide in the blood without taking a blood test.

U

Umbilical Catheter

A small plastic tube inserted into one of the arteries of the umbilical cord.

V

Ventilator

Also known as a respirator; a machine used to deliver air and oxygen into the lungs with pressure to help the baby breathe.

Vital Signs

Temperature, heart rate, respiratory rate, blood pressure.