Development of a small baby unit to improve outcomes for the extremely premature infant

J Perinatol. 2022 Feb;42(2):157-164. doi: 10.1038/s41372-021-00984-0. Epub 2021 Mar 12.


Survival and outcomes for extremely premature (EP) infants have improved and even infants born at 23 and 24 weeks that were previously considered non-viable are now routinely surviving. This review describes our particular institution's basis for and process of creating and sustaining a small baby program for a quaternary, referral-based neonatal intensive care unit. Through multi-disciplinary collaboration, small baby guidelines were developed that established uniform care and optimized evidence-based practice for the care of this unique patient population. A focus on parent-centered care while removing noxious stimuli for the patient has improved neurodevelopmental outcomes. Data collection, quality improvement, and ongoing research are incorporated in the small baby program to establish and sustain best practices and outcomes for the EP patient. Through the establishment of a small baby unit, we have improved survival, decreased short-term morbidities, and improved neurodevelopmental outcomes for the EP infant in our region.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Extremely Premature*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature, Diseases* / therapy
  • Infant, Small for Gestational Age
  • Intensive Care Units, Neonatal
  • Morbidity
  • Quality Improvement