Neonatology is a subspecialty of pediatrics that consists of the medical care of newborn infants, especially the ill or premature newborn infant. It is a hospital-based specialty, and is usually practiced in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs).
The principal patients of neonatologists are newborn infants who are ill or requiring special medical care due to prematurity, low birth weight, intrauterine growth retardation, congenital malformations (birth defects), sepsis, pulmonary hyperplasia or birth asphyxias.
Rather than focusing on a particular organ system, neonatologists focus on the care of newborns who require Intensive Care Unit (ICU) hospitalization. They may also act as general pediatricians, providing well newborn evaluation and care in the hospital where they are based.
Some neonatologists, particularly those in academic settings, may follow infants for months or even years after hospital discharge to better assess the long-term effects of health problems early in life. Some neonatologists perform clinical and basic science research to further our understanding of this special population of patients.
The infant is undergoing many adaptations to extrauterine life, and its physiological systems, such as the immune system, are far from fully developed. Diseases of concern during the neonatal period include:
- Neonatal jaundice
- Infant respiratory distress syndrome
- Neonatal lupus erythematosus
- Neonatal conjunctivitis
- Neonatal tetanus
- Vertically transmitted diseases
- Neonatal sepsis
- Neonatal bowel obstruction
- Benign neonatal seizures
- Neonatal acne
- Neonatal stroke
- Neonatal diabetes mellitus
- Neonatal alloimmune thrombocytopenia
- Neonatal herpes simplex
- Neonatal hemochromatosis
- Neonatal meningitis
- Neonatal hepatitis
- Neonatal hypoglycemia
- Neonatal adrenoleukodystrophy
- Neonatal isoerythrolysis
- Diffuse neonatal hemangiomatosis
- Benign neonatal hemangiomatosis
- Neonatal cholestasis
- Transient neonatal pustular melanosis
- Perinatal asphyxia
- Neonatal ichthyosis–sclerosing cholangitis syndrome
- Neonatal toxic shock-like exanthematous disease