The Growth and Development Unit. A proposed approach for enhancing infant neurodevelopment and family-centered care in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

J Perinatol. 2019 Dec;39(12):1684-1687. doi: 10.1038/s41372-019-0514-7. Epub 2019 Oct 3.


There is growing evidence that the neurosensory and social environment of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) has lasting effects on the neurodevelopment of the high-risk hospitalized infant. Thus, many NICUs are transitioning from traditional, medical healing approaches to enhanced family-centered developmental care approaches with the aim of improving infant outcomes and parental mental health. This commentary describes a transdisciplinary neurodevelopmental program based on key principles and recommendations from current and evolving evidence-based care practice guidelines. This clinical initiative, known as the Growth and Development Unit (GDU), was developed within the context of a 66-bed level III NICU. The process of program inception, key elements of program development, as well as program strengths and challenges are discussed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Boston
  • Child Development*
  • Family
  • Hospital Units
  • Hospitals, Teaching
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn / growth & development*
  • Intensive Care Units, Neonatal / organization & administration*
  • Intensive Care, Neonatal / methods*
  • Parents
  • Patient-Centered Care
  • Program Development