A neonatal physician, or neonatologist, is a board-certified pediatrician with years of training in the care of newborn babies. If you have a premature infant, are experiencing a high-risk pregnancy, or know your child is at risk for developmental or chronic disease issues, you should become well-acquainted with a neonatal physician.
Here’s more about this doctor’s important role.
What Is a Neonatal Physician?
A neonatal physician, or neonatologist, is a highly trained pediatrician who specializes in the care of infants born under special circumstances. The neonatal physician assesses, diagnoses, and treats complicated medical conditions in newborns and helps parents, caregivers, and other medical professionals navigate high-risk problems, such as cardiac and respiratory issues.
Because the neonatologist is specifically educated in the anatomy, physiology, development, diseases, and conditions of the newborn baby, this physician develops care plans finely-tuned to infant needs–which are very different from that of older children, teens, and adults.
What Does a Neonatal Physician Do?
The neonatologist leads the medical team in caring for high-risk infants. Working out of a hospital NICU (neonatal intensive care unit), medical practice, or both, a neonatal physician addresses:
- Problems of prematurity (such as breathing, GI, and heart problems)
- Nutrition, feeding, and weight gain issues
- High-risk pregnancies and deliveries, including C-sections and multiple births
- Infections, such as sepsis, meningitis, and pneumonia
- Chromosomal differences, such as Downs syndrome
- Neural tube defects, such as spina bifida
- Injuries that occur during the birthing process
- Phototherapy for infants with jaundice due to high bilirubin levels
- Warming treatments for babies having difficulty maintaining the proper body temperature
Neonatologists perform central line placements, complex reconstructive surgeries, and lumbar punctures–treatments that require special equipment and knowledge because of the size and developmental issues associated with the newborn. Finally, your neonatal physician delivers the care all newborns need to thrive, including vaccinations, circumcisions for baby boys, and painless frenectomy or cutting off excess tissue under the tongue.
Why Would My Baby Need a Neonatal Physician?
In general, your medical team will refer you to a neonatal physician if you have a high-risk pregnancy or if it has been determined your baby has a medical issue during your pregnancy or immediately after birth. The neonatologist will plan and deliver the care necessary for the safest delivery and for the long-term health and well-being of your little one.
Experienced, Compassionate Pediatric Care in Palm Harbor, Trinity, Westchase, and Lutz, FL
At Children’s Medical Center, our pediatricians and their caring staff value the lives of the most fragile of their patients. They work with families to deliver outstanding neonatal care in the Tampa, FL, area.