Newborn intensive care unit in Anchorage, Alaska

As a new parent, we understand that you're eagerly awaiting bringing home your newborn. As such, we aim to provide piece of mind if your baby needs to be admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit, or NICU.

The NICU at Alaska Regional Hospital is a special unit created for newborns who need specialized treatment when born premature, with serious medical problems, or if affected by delivery complications. In these instances, the baby is immediately passed from the labor and delivery room to the adjacent NICU.

For more information about the services of the NICU, call our 24/7 Consult-A-Nurse® line.

NICU services

The neonatal stage encompasses the first 28 days of an infant’s life. Due to a variety of circumstances, some newborns may need advanced care to develop and grow strong before being discharged. As such, our NICU has been precisely designed to promote your baby's growth and development through the use of subdued lighting, noise control and the provision of maximum rest.

Our NICU cares for premature babies, low birthweight babies, and those who have medical conditions or need the help of a neonatal surgeon. Additionally, our specially-trained neonatologists and nurse practitioners provide 24/7 monitoring and personal care for premature infants and ill newborns who require constant medical attention. Our neonatal doctors and NICU specialists not only cover the Alaska Regional NICU, but other NICU hospitals in the area as well, maintaining a high standard of care for babies throughout the region.

Conditions we treat

In addition to premature infants, the team of pediatrics specialists in our neonatal ICU are equipped to treat a number of other acute and chronic conditions, including:

  • Feeding difficulties
  • Heart conditions
  • Low birth weight
  • Organ dysfunction
  • Respiratory issues, including needs for oscillator ventilation and nitric oxide
  • Severe infections

What is premature birth

What is considered premature birth is when a baby is born more than three weeks before their estimated due date, or, before the start of the 37th week of pregnancy. Under these circumstances, babies can often have complex medical issues. While these issues do vary in severity, the earlier the birth, the higher the increase in risk of death or disability. Accordingly, premature birth and exceptionally low birth weight account for almost 17% of infant deaths.

Risks of premature birth

While we are unsure as to exactly what causes premature birth, there are certain known risk factors that can increase the chance a baby being born preterm. They can still take place without these risk factors in place, however, some of these risks include:

  • Less than 18 months between pregnancies
  • Past premature births being pregnant
  • Pregnancy complications
  • Pregnancy with twins or triplets
  • Tobacco and/or substance abuse

Effects of premature birth

While the ultimate consequences of a preterm birth can radically differ from patient to patient, there are many potential complications that can affect preemies, including:

  • Feeding difficulties
  • Low body temperature
  • Respiratory distress
  • Small size with a disproportionately large head