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What is a Special Care Nursery?

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Updated May 12, 2011

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A special care nursery can care for moderately preterm babies.

A special care nursery can care for moderately preterm babies.

Image by Alvis Upitis / Getty Images

A special care nursery can care for moderately premature babies and can stabilize younger preemies for transport to a level 3 NICU. Special care nurseries may also be called level 2 NICUs, level II NICUs, or specialty care centers.

All special care nurseries can care for babies born after 32 weeks gestational age. They can care for babies who:

All special care nurseries, or level 2 NICUs, can also stabilize babies who are too small or too sick to stay and need to be transported to level 3 NICUs.

Special care nurseries are further broken down into Level 2A and Level 2B NICUs based on the type of respiratory support they offer:

  • Level 2A NICUs are limited in the type of respiratory support they can provide. They cannot provide CPAP or mechanical ventilation at all.
  • Level 2B NICUs can provide CPAP or mechanical ventilation for short periods of time, usually less than 24 hours.

Sources:

American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Fetus and the Newborn. "Policy Statement: Levels of Neonatal Care." Pediatrics Nov. 2004. 114: 1341-1346.

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