At Lurie Children’s, we have a comprehensive outpatient follow-up clinic to evaluate intensive care graduates from the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and the Regenstein Cardiac Care Unit (CCU) – the Neonatal and Cardiac Intensive Care Follow-Up Clinic. For infants who have spent time in an intensive care unit for medical conditions, birth complications, prematurity or heart surgery, it is not unusual for some babies to need some extra help along the way. The Neonatal and Cardiac Intensive Care Follow-Up Clinic is a developmental follow-up service. We support your child’s development from infancy through the preschool years, to help your child reach their full potential. Once these children have reached age 6, they are cared for in the NICU-Cardiac Neurodevelopmental Program.
Beginning at birth, children begin to learn, move, play and communicate. This developmental growth is just as important as physical growth and should be monitored closely, especially during the first three years. Children who are born prematurely or have had medical complications or cardiac surgery have an increased risk of having difficulties with their development. The brain grows fastest and has the best ability to recover during the first three years of life.
Many infants require only developmental screening as well as advice for the parents. We help parents understand their baby's cues. Many things can be stimulating to an infant that has had medical complications or was born prematurely. Finger splaying, grimacing and coughing can be signs of stress. We teach families to identify signs and respond to their baby's needs, such as the need to be held, touched or simply be in a quiet environment.
The Neonatal and Cardiac Intensive Care Follow-Up Clinic also serves infants with identified developmental impairments. If an infant needs help reaching his or her developmental milestones, it is best if therapy is started early on. We supervise an infant’s development very closely and recommend therapy as soon as any problem is identified. Our multidisciplinary team of experts is there to help.
In addition, longer-term monitoring of NICU and CCU graduates provides vital information that helps our caregivers maintain the top-quality of care that infants received in the Lurie Children’s NICU and CCU. The follow-up clinic participates in multicenter studies evaluating possible long-term benefits of medications given in research studies to pregnant women and NICU patients.
For most children, outpatient visits are scheduled quarterly to half-yearly through preschool (age three or four) to make sure they are developing the skills they need to attend school. At any age, extra visits can be scheduled as needed.
What to Expect
The clinic is staffed by a multidisciplinary team. Depending on your child’s age and needs, they may see any combination of the following specialists:
Physicians – Our specialists are neonatologists with expertise in the growth and development of NICU and CCU graduates. Additionally, there are pediatric physiatrists also associated with the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, who have expertise in motor development and rehabilitation.
Physical therapists – Our physical therapists specialize in motor development, balance and coordination.
Occupational therapists – Our occupational therapists specialize in state regulation, sensory processing and arm/hand function.
Speech-language pathologists – Our speech therapists specialize in communication and language development, as well as in feeding and swallowing.
Child psychologists – Our psychologists have expertise in intellectual and emotional development and behavior.
Nutritionists – Our nutritionists specialize in making sure growth and nutritional intake are adequate after transitioning from the NICU or CCU to home.