Premature Infant Conditions

The Level III NICU at Saint Francis Medical Center offers leading-edge treatments for various disorders related to premature infants and newborns, including:


A period of 15–20 seconds when your baby doesn’t breathe, usually related to prematurity.

Birth Defects

A condition present at birth resulting in an abnormal structure, function or body metabolism (inborn error of body chemistry) that may result in physical or mental disability.

Birth Trauma

Birth trauma is a physical injury to the baby that occurs during the process of birth. Many birth traumas occur because of the baby’s size or the position of the baby during labor and delivery.

Blood Sugar and Metabolic Problems

The blood sugar level is the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood. Metabolic problems describe blood abnormalities related to calcium, sodium, potassium, and unusual accumulations of acids, proteins and fats in the body as well as other substances produced by the normal chemical reactions in the body.

Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia

A chronic lung condition that may occur several weeks after your baby has respiratory distress and received oxygen or ventilator support.

Genetic Syndromes

A genetic syndrome is a constellation of birth defects and/or unusual physical findings caused by abnormal chromosomes or genes, by exposure during pregnancy to a toxin, or by unknown factors. Down’s Syndrome (also known as Trisomy 21) is a common example of a chromosomal disorder in which an extra copy of genetic material is present in each cell of the body. Fetal alcohol syndrome is caused by exposure to a toxin: alcohol.

There are hundreds of described syndromes and many occur without a known reason. Syndromes or genetic abnormalities occur in approximately 3 percent of babies.

Growth Disorders and Nutritional Problems

The cause of a growth problem depends on the type of growth disorder in question. Some growth problems are genetic, while others may be caused by hormonal disorders or poor absorption of food. Providing adequate and proper nutrition for your growing child is fundamental for normal growth and development.

Heart Murmurs

A sound from the heart and its vessels made by blood flow. It is a very common finding in a newborn and often “comes and goes” in the first few weeks of life. It may be normal or a sign of abnormality in the heart.

Infections and Pneumonia

Pneumonia is an inflammation of the lungs caused by bacteria, viruses, or chemical irritants. It is a serious infection or inflammation in which the air sacs fill with pus and other liquid. It may require treatment with antibiotics and the infant may need help with breathing and/or extra oxygen.


Yellowing of the skin and eyes due to accumulation of a waste product from destruction of red blood cells called bilirubin in the blood. It is treated with special lights or phototherapy.

Necrotizing Enterocolitis

Serious intestinal inflammation that most commonly affects premature babies.

Patent Ductus Arteriosus

A fetal blood vessel near the heart that usually closes at birth. It can reopen, causing a murmur and excess fluid in the lungs. It can be treated with a drug called indomethacin or surgery.

Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn

If your baby is very ill, he/she may develop high blood pressure in the lungs, leading to breathing problems and reduced oxygen levels in the blood. Your baby may require a ventilator, oxygen and various medications.


A collection of air leaked into the chest cavity from a hole in the lung. This is sometimes referred to as a “collapsed lung.” It may be treated by inserting a small tube through the chest wall to withdraw the air.

Respiratory Distress Syndrome

A condition most commonly in premature infants causing the lungs’ air sacs to collapse due to the lack of a substance in the lungs called surfactant. This condition may require oxygen or assistance with breathing from a ventilator as well as replacement of surfactant.

Retinopathy of Prematurity

Eye disorder mainly seen in very premature babies, which can lead to vision loss or blindness. An ophthalmologist will do an exam if needed, and your doctor will discuss the results of the exam and any treatment needed for your baby.


A seizure occurs when part(s) of the brain receives a burst of abnormal electrical signals that temporarily interrupts normal electrical brain function. The incidence of seizures is high before the child’s first birthday. Approximately 3 to 5 percent of all children may experience a seizure.