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:
- Can't stay warm on their own and need to be placed in an incubator.
- Aren't strong enough to eat well and need NG or OG feeds.
- Have mild health problems related to prematurity, such as jaundice or apnea of prematurity.
- Have spent time in a level 3 NICU and are recovering.
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.
American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Fetus and the Newborn. "Policy Statement: Levels of Neonatal Care." Pediatrics Nov. 2004. 114: 1341-1346.