MedStar Georgetown's NICUs offers intensive, daily medical care for the smallest, sickest and most fragile newborns. We can provide comprehensive services for high-risk pregnancy care and birth as well as high-risk infant care.

We offer prenatal assessments for high-risk pregnancy and ill infant transfers to our facilities.

Breathing Treatments for Premature Infants

Babies born sick or prematurely often have lungs that are not ready to breathe room air. Underdeveloped lungs cannot deliver enough oxygen to the brain, heart and other organs. Our initial treatments for these critically ill infants focus on helping them to breathe air with extra oxygen or to supply the body with oxygen through other means.

Treatments include:

  • Continuous positive pressure and special breathing machines
  • High-frequency ventilation for babies with severe respiratory failure, with or without air-leak
  • Inhaled nitric oxide therapy: a treatment for hypoxic respiratory failure
  • Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO): provides heart and lung support for critically ill infants unresponsive to conventional treatment (ECMO is similar to using a heart-lung machine)
  • Whole Body Cooling for Premature Infants: Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) is a particularly dangerous condition experienced by some babies at delivery. In HIE, oxygen to the brain is restricted and serious injury or brain damage can occur. MedStar's NICU offers a cutting-edge therapy for HIE, called whole body cooling. Reducing the body's temperature for 72 hours and then slowly re-warming it can help limit the damage to the neural pathways in the brain.

Whole body cooling for HIE should start as soon as possible after birth, ideally within six hours. Babies born at a MedStar location without a NICU may transfer to MedStar via land or air with our "mobile NICU" machines.

Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) Center

MedStar Georgetown's NICU is a regional referral center for the treatment of advanced retinopathy of prematurity. Our retinal surgeons can evaluate and immediately treat premature infants with ROP from other hospitals.

Premature babies, particularly those born before 31 weeks gestation, are at risk of developing ROP -- abnormal blood vessel growth. Severe cases of ROP may result in a partially or fully detached retina or blindness. MedStar eye specialists follow these babies closely during the NICU stay, as well as after discharge so that babies receive care immediately and there is no danger of vision loss.

Make an Appointment

To schedule a consultation or an appointment with a neonatology and NICU expert, please call

202-444-TINY (8469)

Related Resources

Learn more about the services we offer at the MedStar Georgetown NICU: