Neonatologists – For Better Health Care of Your Newborn

Neonatology: An Introduction

Neonatology is a specialty of pediatrics that includes the medical care of newborn babies (specifically in the first 4 weeks after the birth), especially those that are delivered prematurely. It is usually practiced in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs). The primary patients who require this special medical care are newborn infants who are ill or prematurely delivered, have low birth weight, intrauterine growth restriction, congenital malformations (birth defects), sepsis, pulmonary hypoplasia, or birth asphyxia.

Neonatologists: Spectrum of Care

Neonatologists are highly trained and extensively skilled doctors who rather than focusing on a particular organ, focus on the care of newborn infants who require OPD advice or hospitalization. Some of the problems that these critically ill babies face range from premature birth to underdevelopment due to lack of oxygen at birth. A Neonatologist works with these babies from the time they are born till the time they leave the NICU. The NICU is more commonly called the ICU for newborn babies who are born with major health issues.

Some of the responsibilities of a neonatologist include:

  • Assisting With Premature or Problematic Deliveries:
    If the birth is premature or the baby has some kind of defect, the hospital calls for a neonatologist. He/she is present at the time of delivery and is required to help if there are any complications with the delivery or if the baby needs medical attention right after being born. He/she would help the baby breathe using specialized procedures and anything else that may be necessary to stabilize the baby's condition.
  • Assisting With Essential Nutrition and Medication:
    Premature and NICU babies usually do not have fully developed digestive systems and often face difficulty feeding on formula. In these cases, finding an alternative to feed them and ensuring that the babies' nutritional needs are being fulfilled is also a major responsibility of a neonatologist.
  • Providing Support and Treatment After Discharge
    A neonatologist is also responsible to follow up with the regular pediatrician of the baby even after the baby is discharged. He/she is responsible to make sure that the baby is getting the medical attention required to maintain the health of the infant.

What are the Diseases Treated by Neonatologists?

  • Apnea of Prematurity
  • Birth Trauma
  • Breast Milk Jaundice
  • Congenital Pneumonia
  • Extremely Low Birth Weight Infant
  • Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
  • Fungal Infections in Preterm Infants
  • Hemolytic Disease of the Newborn
  • Intestinal Obstruction in Newborn
  • Kernicterus
  • Meconium Aspiration Syndrome
  • Neonatal Hypertension
  • Neonatal Jaundice
  • Neonatal Sepsis
  • Transient Tachypnea of the Newborn

What are the Common Procedures done by Neonatologists?

  • High-Frequency Oscillatory Ventilation (HFOV)
  • Umbilical Vein Catheterization
  • Airway Management
  • Central Venous Access
  • Bronchoscopy
  • Lumbar Puncture
  • Extra Corporeal Membrane Oxygenator (Artificial Lung)
  • Cardiopulmonary resuscitation
  • Arterial Access
  • Bone marrow aspiration

What Treatments are Provided in Neonatology?

Neonatologists are responsible to provide for the following care:-

  • Diagnose and treat critically ill newborns with conditions such as breathing disorders, infections, and birth defects.
  • Coordinate and medically manage newborns' premature birth.
  • Ensure that these babies receive proper nutrition for healing, growth, and development.
  • Provide care to the newborn at cesarean delivery, or any other delivery that involves complications.
  • Stabilize and treat the newborns with any life-threatening medical problems.
  • Consult pediatricians, obstetricians, and family physicians regarding conditions affecting the newborn.

The Path to Become a Certified Neonatologist

To become a qualified Neonatologist, a doctor must receive five & a half years of training in M.B.B.S from medical college which is followed by a post-graduation course in Paediatric medicine for three years. Furthermore, they also have to undertake a super specialization degree in Neonatology to complete their training and certification. 

Dr. Divaanshu Gupta

Dr. Divaanshu Gupta is a cardiac anaesthesiologist in Manipal Hospital, Jaipur. He has done his M.B.B.S. as well as M.D. Anaesthesia from S.M.S. Medical College. He has a vast experience of working in various critical care units of government as well as corporate hospitals.

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