More than 90 families of babies who spent time in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta reunited in early May to celebrate their progress since they left the hospital.
The NICU “grads” spent the day in the Egleston Hospital garden for a Dr. Seuss's Oh, the Places You’ll Go!-themed celebration with the staff who cared for them through the first days of life.
The NICU grads, ranging in age from 7 months to 2 years old, showed their progress by holding pictures of themselves when they were in the NICU’s care and sharing their new hobbies and likes.
One NICU graduate, Harmony, spent 4 weeks in the hospital after her diagnosis of congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH), a condition that affects the adrenal glands. Today, Harmony loves watching Wheel of Fortune, crawling around with her older sisters, and eating strawberries and Cheerios.
Another graduate, Kade, spent 3 months in the NICU after an emergency cesarean section. He was diagnosed with meconium ileus, a type of bowel blockage that caused part of his intestines to die, and needed treatment to retrain his intestine and colon. Today, Kade is a happy, healthy child who loves dancing, singing, and playing with his older brother, Karter.
Nationwide, about 7 babies per 100 births are admitted to the NICU. “Typically, babies who are admitted to NICUs are either premature, low weight, or have some type of underlying medical issue,” says Hansa Bhargava, MD, senior medical director at WebMD. “Ten percent of all babies born in the United States are born prematurely. There is a real need for this specialized care to help many of these infants.
Children’s NICU facilities are designed to provide a complete environment for newborns with complex conditions who may need extra care. In 2017, Children’s worked with 1,000 neonatal patients and performed 837 neonatal surgeries across all of its NICUs.
“No one wants their baby to be in an intensive care unit, but parents should rest assured that a hospital that has a NICU has doctors who are experts in their field,” Bhargava says.