Glossary of Terms
Anaemia: Too few red blood cells.
Apnoea: A pause in breathing for a short period.
Acidosis: An abnormally high level of acid in the blood.
Apgar Score: A way of assessing a the baby’s health immediately after birth, by scoring ‘points’ for heart rate, breathing, skin colour, tone and the baby’s reactions.
Asphyxia: Too little oxygen and too much carbon dioxide in the blood of the foetus or baby.
Aspirate: This term is used to obtain a small amount of the baby’s stomach contents via Nasogastric or Orogastric tube to ensure that the tube is in the stomach and it is safe for feeding.
Bilirubin: A pigment produced from the breakdown of red blood cells. When in excess, bilirubin appears as yellow skin known as jaundice.
Blood Gases: A blood test to check the level of oxygen, carbon dioxide and acidity.
Blood Cultures: A small blood sample is collected and added to some special fluid. This is kept warm, which encourages bacteria to grow. Results are available after 48 hours. When it is known what bacteria are present, it can be checked that the baby is on the right antibiotics.
Blood Transfusion: When extra blood is given.
Bradycardia: Slowing of the heart rate to lower than normal.
Bagging: Putting a mask connected to a squeezable bag or pressure device over the baby’s nose and mouth to help breathing.
Carbon Dioxide (CO2): Waste gas eliminated by the lungs.
Catheter: A plastic tube to put fluids into or to remove them from the body
CPAP (Continuous positive airway pressure): This is continuous pressure applied to the lungs through a mask or endotracheal tube and helps the baby’s breathing.
Candida: A yeast infection of skin and mucus membranes (mouth, digestive or genital tracts).
Cannula: A very small, short, soft plastic tube that is inserted into a baby’s vein to give fluids or medicines directly into the bloodstream without having to keep using needles.
Centile Charts: Graphs showing the normal ranges of body measurements at different ages.
Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF): Fluid produced within the chambers of the brain that flows down and around the spinal cord.
Chest Drain: A tube passed through the chest wall to drain off air leaking from the lung.
Chronic Lung Disease (CLD): A disorder of the lung that may have come about because the baby has been on a ventilator for a long time. Chronic lung disease is also known as brochi pulmonary dysplasia (BPD).
Chronological Age: A baby’s age from the actual date of birth.
Corrected Age: The age a premature baby would be if he/she had been born on their due date.
CT Scanner: A special type of X-ray machine that is more detailed than a normal X-ray.
Desaturations (Desats): Short periods of time when the oxygen level in your body's system drops below an accepted level.
Edema: Presence of too much fluid in body tissues causing a swollen appearance.
Endotracheal Tube: A tube inserted into the mouth to the windpipe to keep the airway open.
Extubate: Removing the endotracheal tube from the windpipe.
ECG (Electrocardiogram): A graph showing the heart’s electrical activity.
EEG (Electroencephalogram): A graph showing the brain’s electrical activity.
ECMO (Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation):This is a machine gives the blood oxygen from outside the body. It is used when treatment with a ventilator has not worked on babies with heart and lung problems.
Electrolytes: Essential substances in the body that, when dissolved, give solutions able to conduct electric current (for example table salt, sodium chloride or potassium chloride).
Extremely Low Birthweight: A baby born weighing less than 1000g.
Gestational Age: The time period in weeks from conception to delivery.
Grunting: The noise made by a baby with breathing difficulty.
Grams To Pounds: Units of weight, 28 grams = 1 ounce, 454 grams = 1 pound.
Head Ultrasound: A diagnostic imaging technique that makes images of the brain and is generally done at the bedside.
Hypoglycaemia: Blood sugar level below normal.
Hypothermia: Body temperature drops below normal.
Hypoxia: Abnormally low amount of oxygen in the body tissues.
Humidity: To prevent premature babies losing too much water through their skin, they are often nursed in warm, humidified incubators. Humidity (water) is also added to the gases the baby breathes through the ventilator.
High Flow Cannula: A respiratory device that warms and humidifies high flow rates of air/oxygen blends for delivery to a baby via nasal cannula.
HDU: High Dependency Unit.
Incubator: A heated bed covered by a clear plastic box that allows the baby to be kept warm without clothes so that they can be monitored very closely.
Infusion Pump: Is like a syringe that provides fluids, medicine or nutrients directly into the blood. These can be given over a set period of time.
Intravenous Lines (IV): Are the fine tubes that are sometimes inserted into a blood vessel, usually in a hand, foot, arm or leg in order to give fluid or medicine directly.
Jaundice: Yellow colour in the skin from excess bilirubin.
Morphine: This drug is used for pain and to reduce the discomfort and stress that babies may experience from some of the necessary treatments being given.
MRI Scan: Computer-generated pictures of inside a baby without harming him or her.
Nasogastric Tube: A long, thin, soft plastic tube that is passed via a baby’s nose into his/her stomach. This tube is used to give milk to a baby until he/she is strong enough to take milk from the breast or a bottle.
Nasal Cannula: A small tube placed in your baby's nose to give extra oxygen to your baby.
NICU: Neonatal intensive care unit.
Nasojejunal Tube (NJ Tube): A soft, flexible tube inserted into the nose, through the stomach, and then into the jejunum (a part of the small intestines). The tube carries formula and medicines into the jejunum where it can be quickly absorbed into the body.
Oscillator: Is a type of ventilator that delivers very rapid breaths at a low pressure into the baby’s lungs. This can reduce the amount of damage to an infant’s fragile lungs compared to a conventional ventilator.
Orogastric Tube (OG Tube): A feeding tube that is placed into a baby's mouth and is advanced into his/her stomach. This tube may be used to feed or it may be used to remove air from the stomach.
P02: Blood oxygen level.
Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA): A blood vessel that allows blood to bypass the lungs. It should close shortly after birth.
pH: Amount of acid in the blood.
Phototherapy: Treatment of jaundice by use of special lights on the baby’s skin to breakdown the bilirubin.
Pulse Oximeter: A probe that wraps around a hand or foot, connected to a machine, which measures how much oxygen the blood is carrying.
Physiotherapy: Special exercises to improve or relieve physical problems.
Pneumothorax: When there is air between the lung and chest wall if a lung has leaked air.
Posset: When the baby spits up a small amount of milk after feeding.
PICC Line (Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter): A special intravenous catheter that is inserted into a peripheral (limbs) vein and threaded towards the heart. It is used for long term-fluid nutrition.
PICU: Paediatric Intensive Care Unit
Respiratory Distress Syndrome (RDS): Is a breathing problem that preterm babies can develop. It occurs because of a lack of surfactant in the lungs. The baby appears to breathe quickly (tachypnoea) and the chest appears to be sucked in when the baby breathes.
Resuscitate: This is to revive a baby.
Sepsis: Infection in the blood or other body tissues.
Suction: Mechanical removal of mucous from the nose or throat or endotracheal tube with a plastic tube.
SCBU: Special Care Baby Unit
Sleep Study: This is a test done on babies who have been on oxygen for a long time. The test establishes whether the baby can keep his or her own oxygen levels in a safe range.
Surfactant: A soap-like substance (made up mainly of fat) produced by lung cells. Surfactant Coats inner surfaces of airways and air sacs in the lungs to keep those passages open between breaths. Absent or lacking in the babies born preterm (production begins at about 24 weeks gestation but is not well developed until 36 weeks).
Stoma: Is an opening on the surface of the abdomen which has been surgically created to divert the flow of faeces to a pouch on the outside of the body.
Stoma Reversal: Is an operation that involves re-joining these ends of the bowel and closing the stoma that was created.
Short Bowel Syndrome: Is a malabsorption disorder caused by a lack of functional small intestine.
Tachycardia: Rapid heart beat.
Total Parenteral Nutrition (TPN): Is a way of feeding a baby mixtures of nutrients that can be dripped directly into a baby’s blood stream through a long, fine tube into a vein.
Umbilical Catheter: A small plastic tube inserted into one of the arteries of the umbilical cord.
Ventilator: A machine used to deliver air and oxygen into the lungs with pressure to help the baby breathe.
Vital Signs: A baby's heart rate, breathing rate, blood pressure and body temperature.