, Volume 12, Issue 3, pp 421-429
Date: 12 Jan 2010

Neurocritical Care for Neonates

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To describe the concept, implementation, patient characteristics, and preliminary outcomes of a Neonatal Neurocritical Care Service (NNCS) recently established at the University of California, San Francisco.


The NNCS was developed to better address the special needs of neonates at risk for neurological injury. The service combines dedicated neurological care, specialized neonatal medical and nursing expertise, neuromonitoring, neuroimaging, neurodevelopmental care, and long-term follow up. Newborns evaluated by the NNCS between July 2008 and June 2009 were included in the analysis. Demographic data (gestational age at birth, sex, admission diagnosis, and reason for consult), outcome (mortality, length of stay), and neurophysiology and imaging resources were extracted from patient charts.


Over the 12-month period, 155 newborns were evaluated (approximately 25% of all admissions); of these, 51 were preterm (<36 weeks gestation) and 104 were term. Approximately half were admitted for primary medical diagnoses, such as preterm birth, congenital malformations or apnea/apparent life-threatening event (ALTE), with the remainder admitted for primary neurological problems, including perinatal asphyxia, seizures/possible seizures, or congenital cerebral malformation. The most common neurological diagnoses were hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (38%) and seizure (35%). Among preterm newborns, intraventricular hemorrhage grade III and periventricular hemorrhagic infarction were most common. Mortality was approximately 20% in both preterm and term populations.


While specialized neurocritical care has improved outcomes in adult populations, longitudinal studies are needed to determine whether specialized neurocritical care services will also result in improved neurodevelopmental outcomes for newborns.

H. C. Glass and S. L. Bonifacio have contributed equally to this work.