adjusted age (or corrected age): the age a preterm baby would be if she had been born on her due date.
air sacs: small structures in the lungs where oxygen is delivered to the blood and carbon dioxide is removed.
anaemia: abnormally low concentrations of red blood cells or haemoglobin in the blood.
antibodies: protein substances in the blood which attack any foreign substances, such as bacteria, viruses or transplanted organs.
aorta: the main artery leaving the heart.
apgar score: an evaluation of a newborn based on five criteria: heart rate, respiratory effort, muscle tone, response to stimulation and skin color. Each criteria is scored 0-2, for a best possible score of 10.
apnoea: a pause in breathing that lasts 20 seconds or longer.
asphyxia: decreased oxygen in the body, accompanied by rising carbon dioxide levels. This condition can cause serious injury to organ systems and even death if not rapidly corrected.
audiologist: a medical professional who diagnoses and treats hearing problems.
bacterial vaginosis: an abnormal vaginal condition – not a true bacterial infection but rather an imbalance of the bacteria that are normally present in the vagina. Symptoms are rarely: vaginal discharge and/or vaginal ordor.
bagging: a type of respiratory support in which a bag attached to a mask that covers the baby’s nose and mouth is used to pump air and/or oxygen into the baby’s lungs.
bililights (phototherapy): special light treatment for babies with jaundice in which the affected infant is placed under special fluorescent lights that break down the bilirubin so it can be eliminated from the body.
bilirubin: a breakdown product of red blood cells. Excessive amounts may cause yellowing of the skin, or jaundice.
blood gas analysis: a blood test to determine the levels of oxygen, carbon dioxide, and acidity in the blood.
blood pressure: the pressure the blood exerts against the walls of the blood vessels. This pressure allows the blood to flow through the vessels.
blood sugar: the concentration of glucose in the blood.
blood transfusion: administration of blood from a healthy donor to a patient.
bonding: the process of a parent and child becoming emotionally attached.
BPD: see “bronchopulmonary dysplasia”.
bradycardia: a slower-than-normal heart rate rate for that individual.
brain bleed: see “intraventricular haemorrhage”.
bronchioli: the passageways by which the air passes through the nose or mouth to the air sacs of the lungs.
bronchiolitis: inflammation of the small airways in the lungs.
bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD): chronic breathing problems arising from lung tissue damage due to artificial pulmonary ventilation. Children who require respirator support and/or supplemental oxygen for more than 28 days are diagnosed with this condition. Also known as chronic lung disease (CLD).
cannula: a narrow, flexible tube with prongs used to deliver oxygen into the baby’s nose.
cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR): a method of reviving a person whose breathing and heartbeat have stopped or slowed abnormally.
catheter: a narrow, flexible tube used to either administer fluids to the body or to drain fluids from the body.
chronic lung disease (CLD): chronic breathing problems arising from lung tissue damage due to artificial pulmonary ventilation. Children who require respirator support and/or supplemental oxygen for more than 28 days are diagnosed with this condition. Also known as bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD).
congenital: present at and existing from the time of birth.
colostomy: a opening in the abdominal wall (surgically-created) that permits the colon (the lower section of the large intestines) to empty directly into a waste bag outside the body.
colostrum: the thin, yellowish fluid secreted from the breasts before the mother’s milk comes in. This fluid is rich in antibodies, which provide protection against infection to the newborn.
contagious: ability to transmit infection from one person to another.
continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP): a respiratory support method that delivers a constant flow of air into the baby’s lungs to keep the air sacs open after each breath.
corrected age: the age a preterm baby would be if she had been born on her due date.
CPR: see “cardiopulmonary resuscitation”.
developmental milestones: important points in a baby’s development, such as crawling, walking and talking.
developmental problems: failure to meet expected capabilities associated with age. May include gross and fine motor coordination (such as rolling over, sitting or picking up small objects with thumb and finger), social, communication, and learning disabilities.
diabetes: disorder of sugar metabolism. early intervention: programs and services for children with developmental delays.
early intervention: programs and services for children with developmental delays.
echocardiogram: the use of ultrasound to evaluate the structure and function of the heart and great vessels.
electrocardiogram (EKG): a graphic recording of the electrical activity of the heart.
electroencephalogram (EEG): a graphic recording of the electrical activity of the brain.
endotracheal tube (ETT): a small tube placed into the trachea (windpipe) to allow air and/or oxygen to flow into the lungs, bypassing the nose.
fever: a rise in body temperature.
foetal lung fluid: fluid made in the lungs before birth.
fontanelle: the soft spots between the bones of the skull of a newborn.
full-term: born between the 37th and 42nd week of pregnancy.
Gastro oesophageal reflux disease (GORD): the flow of stomach contents up into the oesophagus, occasionally resulting in vomiting.
gavage feeding: see “nasogastric tube”.
genotypes: A person’s genotype refers to the types of genes he or she has for a particula inheritable trait. Genotypes determin which characteristics an individual will express, e.g.: freckles, lactose intolerance, eye colour.
gestation: the time spent in the womb between conception and delivery. Average gestation in humans is 39 weeks.
gestational age: the number of weeks from the first day of the last menstrual period and the date of birth.
glucose: a simple sugar that supplies the body with energy.
gram-negative organisms: a type of bacteria that may cause infection after entering a baby’s body through a respirator tube or during the process of delivery.
Group B Strep Infections (GBS): a type of bacterial infection that babies may get from the mother during the birthing process.
high-risk: a term used to describe persons or situations that require special attention and/or intervention to prevent a problem from worsening.
hyaline membrane disease: see “respiratory distress syndrome”.
hydrocephalus: an abnormal accumulation of fluid in the chambers of the brain, characterized by an abnormal increase in head size hyperbilirubinemia: see “jaundice”.
hypertension: high blood pressure.
hypertonia: increased muscle tone.
hypotonia: deficient muscle tone.
hypoxia: a lack of sufficient oxygen in the body.
ileostomy: a surgically-created opening in the abdominal wall that allows for a diversion of the intestine to drain stool into a waste receptacle bag. This procedure may be necessary with problems such as intestinal obstruction or necrotizing enterocolitis.
immunization: administration of a vaccine to induce the production of antibodies to protect against infection.
incubator: cot for keeping preterm babies in controlled conditions and protecting them from infection.
inflammation: the body’s response to injury; it may include pain, heat, redness and swelling.
infusion pump: a device attached to an intravenous line that carefully regulates the amount of fluid going into the baby’s bloodstream.
intracranial haemorrhage: see “intraventricular haemorrhage”.
intravenous (IV): delivery of fluids, nutrition and/or medication directly into a vein.
intraventricular haemorrhage (intracranial haemorrhage or brain bleed): abnormal bleeding into the chambers and possibly the surrounding tissue of the brain.
intubation: the insertion of a tube into the trachea (windpipe) through the nose or mouth to assist with breathing.
jaundice: a yellow colouration of the skin caused by an elevation of bilirubin in the blood.
kangaroo care: a technique of placing babies on their parent’s chest to enable skin-to-skin contact.
lactation consultant: a healthcare professional knowledgeable in the practical tips and process of breast-feeding.
lanugo: fine, soft, lightly-colored hair covering the body of a foetus and some preterm infants.
level 1, 2, 3: levels of neonatal care in the hospital include Level 1 (normal baby nursery), Level 2 (somewhat more intensive care) and Level 3 (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit or NICU).
lower oesophageal sphincter: the muscle at the junction of the oesophagus and stomach. It is normally closed except during swallowing, vomiting, and burping.
lower respiratory tract (lower airway): the parts of the breathing system referring to the trachea (wind pipe), the two bronchial tubes (one to each lung), the bronchioles and the lungs. In essence the tracts for breathing above the shoulders.
lumbar puncture: see “spinal tap”.
meconium: dark green fecal material in an infant’s first bowel movement, excreted at or near delivery.
monitor: a machine that records information such as heartbeat, body temperature, respiration rate, and blood pressure.
nasogastric tube (NG tube): a narrow, flexible tube that is inserted through the nostrils, down the oesophagus, and into the stomach, used to deliver nourishment to or to remove air or fluid from the stomach.
nebulizer treatment: a method of delivering medication by transforming medicine into droplets for inhalation.
necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC): a disease of the intestinal tract, caused by inflammation of the intestinal tract or decreased blood supply to the bowel. This complication in preterm babies generally improves, but can lead to perforation of the bowel, sepsis, or death.
neonatal intensive care unit (NICU): a special section of a hospital (usually a large regional hospital) that provides intensive care for newborn babies.
neonatal period: the first 28 days of life.
neonatologist: a physician who specializes in the medical care and development of preterm infants and sick newborns.
neurologist: a physician specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the nervous system.
nitric oxide: gas delivered into the lungs to improve oxygenation in extremely sick babies.
noninvasive: description of a procedure that does not require injection, incision, or insertion into a body orifice.
nosocomial infections: hospital-acquired infectious diseases.
occupational therapist: a medical professional who specializes in helping with developmental tasks involving the use of the arms, hands, mouth and tongue.
ophthalmologist: a medical doctor who can diagnose and treat injuries or defects of the eyes, including prescribing glasses and medications, and performing surgery.
orogastric tube (OG tube): a narrow, flexible tube that is inserted through the mouth, down the oesophagus, and into the stomach, used to deliver nourishment or to remove air or fluid from the stomach.
ototoxic antibiotics: drugs used to fight infections that have the potential to cause hearing problems.
oxygen hood: a plastic box placed over the head to allow accurate control of oxygen.
oxygen therapy: any method of delivering supplemental oxygen to the infant.
parenteral nutrition (hyperalimentation): delivering nutrition directly into a baby’s bloodstream, providing necessary nutrients such as carbohydrates, electrolytes, protein, minerals, vitamins, and fat without using the digestive tract.
patent ductus arteriosus (PDA): a condition in which the blood vessel that connects the aorta (the main artery of the body) and the pulmonary artery (the artery that brings blood to the lungs) does not close as it should shortly after birth.
perforated bowel: a hole in the intestine.
perinatal period: the time immediately preceding, during, and after birth, typically from the 28th week of gestation through 7 days following delivery.
phototherapy (bililights): special light treatment for babies with jaundice in which the affected infant is placed under special fluorescent lights that break down the bilirubin so it can be eliminated from the body.
physical therapists: medical professionals who work with preemies to help with their neuromuscular development. They are also often involved in follow-up developmental care.
pneumonia: an infection of the lungs leading to breathing difficulty, coughing, chest pain and fever.
premature (preterm): born before the 37th completed week of pregnancy.
prognosis: a forecast of the probable course and end of a disease.
pulmonary artery: the artery that carries blood from the heart to the lungs.
radiant warmer: a heat source for an open bed that warms the infant yet allows easy access.
red blood cells: the cells in the blood that carry oxygen.
respirator: a machine that assists an infant with breathing assistance by supplying and regulating a flow of air, oxygen, and air pressure introduced through a tube threaded through the nose or mouth, down the back of the throat, and into the trachea (windpipe).
respiratory distress syndrome (RDS): a breathing disorder in immature lungs caused by the lack of surfactant.
respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) disease: a respiratory infection caused by a virus that is very common and can have serious implications in babies born prematurely, with or without BPD, and infants with congenital heart disease.
retinopathy of prematurity (ROP): a disease of the retina of the eye found primarily in preterm infants.
sepsis: the presence of bacteria and/or their toxins in the bloodstream.
septic shock: a drop in the vital signs due to an infection throughout the body, due to a decrease in the function of the heart and other major organs.
shunt: a surgically implanted passage between two areas of the body, such as the ventriculoperitoneal shunt that drains fluid from the brain ventricles into the abdominal cavity of a child with hydrocephalus.
special care baby unit (SCBU): an alternative name for a neonatal unit.
spinal tap (lumbar puncture): a diagnostic procedure in which spinal fluid is withdrawn with a needle, inserted between two lumbar vertebrae into the area containing spinal fluid.
stiffness: very tight muscles.
subarachnoid haemorrhage: bleeding in the area around the outside of the brain.
surfactant: a substance formed in the lungs that helps keep the small air sacs expanded and prevents them from collapsing.
synthetic surfactant: a liquid administered directly into the lungs to correct a deficiency of natural surfactant, thereby avoiding significant respiratory problems.
transfusion: administration of blood or blood products from a donor to a recipient.
transient tachypnea of the newborn (TTNB): rapid breathing that gradually improves in the first few hours or days after birth.
trophic feedings: breast-milk feedings given just a few drops a day to a preterm infant until she is stable enough for a full breast-milk schedule. This helps the GI tract to mature and produce enzymes for later feedings.
ultrasound (sonogram): a noninvasive diagnostic technique that produces images of organs by use of high-frequency sound waves.
umbilical catheter: a narrow, flexible tube inserted through a blood vessel in the infant’s umbilical cord.
upper respiratory tract (upper airway): the parts of the breathing system consisting of the nose, the nasal cavity and the throat. In essence the tracts for breathing above the shoulders.
ventilator: a machine to maintain a normal flow of air in and out of the lungs.
X-ray: a diagnostic technique that uses radiation to view internal body structures.