Home after the NICU
Continuing medical care after the NICU
Your baby will most likely get vaccines to protect him from several different diseases by the time he turns 2. These diseases are very serious and can cause a baby to become very ill or even die. Your baby's health care provider will advise you about the vaccination schedule.
Almost all babies, even those who were born prematurely or with a medical condition, should be vaccinated. If your baby was premature, he will receive vaccines based on his chronological (not corrected) age.
If there are other children in your family, they should be up-to-date on vaccinations, including flu shots, to reduce the risk to the baby. Sometimes the whole family is advised to get flu shots before the baby comes home.
Respiratory Synctial Virus (RSV)
If your baby was premature, you may be advise to get your baby immunized against respiratory synctial virus (RSV). RSV is a common virus that affects virtually all children before the age of 2. Most babies get only a slight cold from RSV.
But for some babies, RSV can be more serious. Babies who were born prematurely, or who have heart or lung problems, may benefit from medication that helps prevent a severe or serious RSV infection. This medication is called palivizumab (Synagis). It is given in monthly shots, usually from fall through spring. Ask your baby's health care provider if she should get this medication.
If your baby has special needs
If you baby has special medical conditions, she may also need care from a team of health care providers, such as:
- Pediatric specialists
- Occupational therapists
- Speech therapists
- Physical therapists
Your baby's health care provider, or the social worker or case manager in your NICU, can help you find the resources you need. They can guide you through the maze of agencies that can help you.
Some NICU graduates also are referred to early intervention programs, either by NICU staff, their follow-up providers or parents. For more information about these programs, read Getting Services for Your Baby.
See also: Share your storyAugust 2009
Call your doctor now if your baby...
- Has a temperature above 100.4 F
- Has trouble breathing or is hard to waken
- Has blood in her vomit or stool
- Has yellowish skin or eyes
- Is having a seizure