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Glossary - High-Risk Newborn

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air leak - when air leaks through holes in the lung tissue into the spaces outside the lung airways.

alveoli - tiny sacs that are the smallest airways of the lungs.

apnea - to stop breathing.

asphyxia - a general term used to describe inadequate intake of oxygen by the baby.


bilirubin - substance formed when red blood cells break down and are excreted by the liver. Too much bilirubin in the blood causes jaundice.

bradycardia - slowing of the heart rate.

bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) - see chronic lung disease.


chronic lung disease (Also called CLD or bronchopulmonary dysplasia.) - a term for long-term respiratory problems in premature babies that results from lung injury from treatments with mechanical ventilators and oxygen.

continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) - air or oxygen delivered under a small amount of pressure.

cytomegalovirus (CMV) - a virus related to the herpes virus group of infections.


Dubowitz/Ballard exam - An examination used to estimate a newborn's gestational age from the baby's appearance, skin texture, motor function, and reflexes.


electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) - a test that records the electrical activity of the heart, shows abnormal rhythms (arrhythmias or dysrhythmias), and detects heart muscle damage.

endotracheal tube (ET) - a tube placed through the mouth or nose into the trachea (windpipe).


fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) - a group of abnormalities in babies born to mothers who consume alcohol during pregnancy.


gavage feedings - feedings given through a tube inserted in the baby's mouth or nose into the stomach.


hemolytic disease of the newborn - a condition that occurs when there is an incompatibility between the blood types of the mother and baby, causing breaking down of red blood cells.

hemorrhagic disease of the newborn - a bleeding problem that occurs in a newborn during the first few days of life caused by a deficiency in vitamin K.

hyaline membrane disease (HMD) - see respiratory distress syndrome.

hyperglycemia - high amounts of glucose (sugar) in the blood.

hyperkalemia - high amounts of potassium in the blood.

hypernatremia - high amounts of sodium (salt) in the blood.

hypocalcemia - low calcium levels in the blood.

hypoglycemia - low amounts of glucose (sugar) in the blood.


intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) - a term for inadequate fetal growth during pregnancy.

intravenous (IV) - a method of giving medication or fluids directly into the vein.

intraventricular hemorrhage - bleeding inside the ventricles (hollow chambers) in the brain.


jaundice - a yellow coloring of the skin and/or eyes that is caused by too much bilirubin in the blood.


kernicterus - build up of bilirubin in the tissues of the brain.


lactation consultant (IBCLC - International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) - a nurse or other healthcare provider specially trained to help women with breastfeeding.

large for gestational age (LGA) - a term used to describe babies who are born weighing more than the usual amount for the number of weeks of pregnancy.

low birthweight - refers to a baby weighing less than 2,500 grams (5.5 pounds) at birth.


meconium aspiration - when a baby breathes in amniotic fluid containing meconium (the first bowel movement). This can occur prior to or during birth.


necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) - a serious intestinal illness in babies that can cause tissue damage to the intestines.

neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) - a term for a group of problems a baby experiences when withdrawing from drug use by the mother during pregnancy.

neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) - a special care nursery that uses advanced technology and trained health professionals to care for sick and premature newborns.



patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) - a condition in which the connecting blood vessel between the pulmonary artery and the aorta in fetal circulation stays open in a newborn baby.

periventricular leukomalacia - softening of the white matter of the brain near the ventricles due to damage and death of brain tissue.

pneumomediastinum - air leaks into the mediastinum (the space in the thoracic cavity behind the sternum and between the two pleural sacs containing the lungs).

pneumopericardium - air leaks into the sac surrounding the heart.

pneumothorax - air leaks into the space between the chest wall and the outer tissues of the lungs.

polycythemia - a condition in which there are too many red blood cells in the blood circulation.

premature baby - a baby born at or before the 37th week of pregnancy.

pulmonary interstitial emphysema (PIE) - air leaks and is trapped between the alveoli, the tiny air sacs.



respiratory distress syndrome (Also called RDS or hyaline membrane disease or HMD.) - a condition of premature infant lungs due to insufficient surfactant, a substance in the lungs that helps the air sacs stay open.

respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) - an infection that causes inflammation of the lower airways and pneumonia.

retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) - a disorder of the blood vessels of the retina (the light sensitive part of the eye) that is common in premature babies.


small for gestational age (SGA) - a term used to describe a newborn who is smaller than normal for the number of weeks of pregnancy.

sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) - the sudden and unexplained death of an infant under 1 year of age.


thrombocytopenia - a condition in which there are too few platelets (cells produced in the bone marrow that are needed for clotting).

transient tachypnea of the newborn (TTN) - a mild respiratory problem of babies, characterized by rapid breathing, that begins after birth and lasts about three days.


umbilical artery catheter - a tube that is placed into an umbilical artery of a sick newborn to allow fluids and medications to be given, and for blood to be drawn.


very low birthweight - refers to a baby who is born weighing less than 1,500 grams (3 pounds, 4 ounces).



x-ray - a diagnostic test which uses invisible electromagnetic energy beams to produce images of internal tissues, bones, and organs onto film.



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