ACIDOSIS : An abnormally high level of acid in the blood because the lungs are not working efficiently.

ANAEMIA : A lack of red blood cells.

APNOEA : A pause in breathing. "Apnoeic attacks" are episods (often recurrent) in which breathing is interrupted.

ASPHYXIA : Too little oxygen and too much carbon dioxide in the blood.



BAGGING :Putting a mask connected to a squeezable bag over the baby's nose and mouth to help breathing.

BILIRUBIN : Yellow pigment in blood, wich gives a yellow colouring to the skin.

BLOOD GASES : Laboratory test to determine levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide gases in the blood. The purpose is to assess how well the lungs and circulation are functioning.

BRADYCARDIA : Temporary slowing of the heart rate.

BRAIN SCAN : Use of ultrasound, X rays or magnetic resonance to create a picture of the brain in order to obtain information about it.

BREAST PUMP : Hand or electric device used for expressing breast milk.

BRONCHO PULMONARY DYSPLASIA : A disorder of the lung, associated with a past need for prolonged mechanical ventilation. The baby has an increased oxygen requirement and breathing difficulty, wich may take some time to improve.



CANDIDA : A yeast infection of skin ans mucus membranes (mouth, digestive or genital tracts).

CENTILE CHARTS : Graphs showing the normal ranges of body measurements at differing ages.

CEREBROSPINAL FLUID : Fluid produced within the brain wich flows into the fluid surrounding the spinal cord. An obstruction to the flow or reduced absorption within the brain, leads to hydrocephalus.

CHEST DRAIN : Tube passed through the chest wall to drain off air leaking from the lung.

CHRONOLOGICAL AGE : A baby's age from the actual date of birth.

CORRECTED AGE : The age a premature baby would be if he had been born on his due date.

CPAP/CDAP : Delivery of a flow of air/oxygen under slightly raised pressure. Used to help a baby's breathing and to reduce the frequency of apnoeic attacks by keeping air in the immature lung.

CYANOSIS : Lack of oxygen in the blood makes the skin, lips and nails appear bluish.



DRIP : Delivery of fluids or blood into a vein or artery via a needle or plastic tube.



ECG : Graph showing heart's electrical activity.

EEG : Graph showing brain's electrical activity.

ELECTROLYTES : Essential substances in the body which, when dissolved, give solutions able to conduct electric current.

ENDOTRACHEAL TUBE : Soft plastic tube inserted through the mouth or nose to the trachea (windpipe) th help breathing.

EXCHANGE TRANSFUSION : Replacing the baby's blood with blood from adult donor.

EXPRESSING BREAST MILK : Manipulating the breast to produce milk.

EXTUBATE : Remove tube from the trachea.



FONTANELLE : Soft spots on a baby's head which disappear as the bones grow together.



GESTATIONAL AGE : The time (in weeks) from the start of last menstrual period.

GRUNTING : Noise made by a baby with breathing difficulty.



HAEMOGLOBIN : The oxygen-carrying part of red blood cells.

HEAD BOX : Plastic box placed over a baby's head to allow accurate control of oxygen.

HEAD CIRCUMFERENCE : Measurement of the maximum distance around the baby's head.

HEAT SHIELD : Clear plastic shell placed over the baby to prevent heat loss.

HYALINE MEMBRANE DISEASE or RESPIRATORY DISTRESS SYNDROME : A breathing disorder in which the lungs have difficulty in retainging air.

HYDROCEPHALUS : Excessive accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid within the brain, which may cause rapid increase in head size.

HYPOCALCAEMIA : A lower than normal level of blood calcium.

HYPOGLYCAEMIA : Abnormally low blood glucose level.

HYPOTHERMIA : Body temperature below 35.5 degress Celsius.

HYPOXIA : Abnormally low level of oxygen in the body tissues.



INTRACRANIAL HAEMORRHAGE : A bleed inside the skull.

INTRAVENOUS NUTRITION : Method of supplying all essential nutrients through the mouth or nose into the windpipe (trachea) to permit mechanical ventilation.


IV : Intravenous (into the vein).



JAUNDICE : Yellowness of the skin/whites of the eyes caused by a raised level of bilirubin in the blood.

JEJUNAL FEEDING : Introducing milk, via a special soft tube, directly into the jejunum (part of the small intestine). This reduces the likelihood of regurgitation or vomiting (with the risk of inhalation into the lungs).




LOW BIRTH WEIGHT : Less than 2.5 kg.

LUMBAR PUNCTURE : Withdrawal of small volume of cerebrospinal fluid for analysis.



MECONIUM : Dark greenish material that builds up in the digestive system before birth, ans usually starts being passed as bowel movements (stools) within 24 hours of birth.

MECONIUM ASPIRATION : A baby which becomes distressed prior to delivery may pass meconium whilst still in the womb. If the baby then inhales the fluid in which it is "floating" in the womb, the sticky material irritates and partially blocks the airways, causing breathing difficulties in the newborn period.



NASO GASTRIC FEEDS : Feeding via a fine, soft tube passed through the nose into the stomach.

NEONATE : Baby during the first four weeks of life.

NECROTISING ENTEROCOLITIS : Inflammation of a section of intestinal wall following damage to the lining. This is often associated with a period of impaired blood flow. The abdomen way swell up, and blood is passed in the stools. Air penetrates the wall of the digestive tract; very occasionally the gut may perforate.



OEDEMA : Swelling caused by excess fluid in the tissues beneath the skin.



PARENTERAL NUTRITION : Supplying all essential nutrients by infusion into a vein.

PATENT DUCTUS ARTERIOSUS : Blood vessel in the heart remaining open after it should have closed.

PEEP : Pressure applied during breathing out, which helps keep the lungs from collapsing during mechanical ventilation.

PERIODIC BREATHING : Pattern of breathing characterised by pauses of up to ten seconds.

PERSISTENT FOTAL CIRCULATION : Prior to birth, the blood vessels of the lung are narrow. If the blood vessels do not relax after birth, blood flow to the lungs is reducted. Oxygen, and sometimes drugs, are given to remedy matters.

PH : Denotes the acidity (low value) or alkalinity (raised value) of the blood. A value close to 7.4 is normal for arterial blood.

PHOTOTHERAPY : Using light to reduce the bilirubin level.

PHYSIOTHERAPY : Special exercises to improve or relieve physical problems.

PNEUMOTHORAX : Presence of air between the lung and chest wall following an air leak from a lung.

POSSET : Spit up a small amount of milk after feeding.

PRETERM BABY : Baby born before completion of 37 weeks gestation.




RETINOPATHY OF PREMATURITY : Damage to the light sensitive retina of the eye; usually related to amount of oxygen in the blood reaching the retina.



SGA : Baby whose birth weight is lower than that of 90% of babies of the same gestational age.

SURFACTANT : Compounds which line the air spaces of the lungs, reducing surface tension and thereby preventing lung collapse on breathing out.


TACHYCARDIA : Rapid heart beat.

TACHYPNOEA : Rapid breathing rate.




UMBILICAL CATHETER : Plastic tube inserted through one of the two umbilical arteries. Used to take blood samples for analysis. Some contain a device for monitoring the level of oxygen in the blood.



VENTILATION : Mechanical assistance with breathing, to achieve normal levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the baby's blood.






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