Frequently Asked Questions

Neonatology is a subspecialty of pediatrics that focuses primarily on the medical needs of newborn infants, or neonates.  A neonatologist is a physician who has undergone 3 years of general pediatric training and 3 additional years of subspecialty training in newborn intensive care.

A Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) is a hospital unit that is dedicated to the care of sick infants. Most commonly, an infant is sent to the NICU because he or she is premature, and prone to an assortment of health problems. Critically ill infants may also spend time in the NICU until they are stabilized, at which point they can be moved into more general nurseries or sent home.

Premature (also known as preterm) birth refers to when an infant is born too early, before 37 weeks of pregnancy. Premature birth is a concern because infants born too soon miss out on this valuable time to grow and develop. In the United States, 1 of every 10 babies is born premature. While there are risk factors for premature birth, such as pregnancy with multiples, infection, or high blood pressure, often the cause of premature birth is not known.

A provider from Fairfax Neonatal Associates is available in the hospital 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for any emergency that may arise with your infant.

The neonatologist or neonatal nurse practitioner taking care of your infant will update you every day, either in person or on the phone, regarding the plan of care. We encourage you to visit your infant often and be an active member of the team.

On first impression, the NICU may feel a foreign place. Understanding the NICU can help alleviate your possible apprehensions. In the Patient Education Resources section, there is a link to KidsHealth which provides information about the NICU environment.