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 NICU-Cardiac Neurodevelopmental Program’s Early Childhood Clinic. Infants who have spent time in an intensive care unit for medical conditions, birth complications, prematurity or heart surgery may need some extra developmental support as they grow. The Early Childhood Clinic supports your child’s development from infancy through the preschool years, to help your child reach their full potential. After age 5, children can transition to the NICU-Cardiac Neurodevelopmental Program's Child and Adolescent Clinic for further support during the school years.
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, those requiring hospitalization in an intensive care unit for medical or surgical complications after birth and all infants who required infant cardiac surgery have an increased risk of having difficulties with their development. We don’t always know why this occurs but the good news is that the brain grows fastest and has the best ability to recover during the first three years of life, so providing extra support for development in the early years can help protect brain development and later abilities.
Many infants require only developmental assessment and suggestions to help high risk infants make steady progress in development.
The Early Childhood Clinic also serves infants with difficulties in feeding, motor skills (such as hand skills and walking), understanding language and speaking, and problems with thinking, emotions and behavior. If an infant or young child needs help reaching developmental milestones, we know that early therapy works the best. Because of this, we supervise an infant’s development very closely and help parents find services to address any concerns. We know that certain problems are more likely to surface as children get older and so it’s important for children to have long term monitoring through the clinic. Our multidisciplinary team of experts is there to help our infants, toddlers and preschoolers.
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 with the ultimate goal to promote best practices during the neonatal hospitalization and throughout the first years.
The first visit is usually scheduled at 3 months past the due date and then regular visits occur at 6-12 months, 18 months, 3 years and 5 years. At any age, extra visits can be scheduled as needed.
Our Neurodevelopmental Team
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:
Our specialists are neonatologists with expertise in the growth and development of NICU graduates and infants who required cardiac surgery. We also have pediatric physiatrists also associated with the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, who have expertise in motor development and rehabilitation. Both neonatology and pediatric physiatry fellows see babies and children in our clinic.