Neurologic diseases or injuries present at birth can have a lasting impact on a child’s growth and development. Learning and behavioral problems, feeding difficulties, motor deficits, and cerebral palsy are all issues seen in children born with these conditions. But a baby’s brain has a remarkable ability to heal if early intervention is employed.

The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia is one of only a few institutions in the nation currently offering specialized care for babies with neurologic diseases and brain injury, in the hopes of capitalizing on that critical window of opportunity. Our Neonatal Neurocritical Care Program provides coordinated, ongoing care for infants who are born with, or at risk for, neurologic disease, neurological damage, or brain injury in an effort to maximize each child’s developmental potential.

We provide meticulous neurologic care and rehabilitation as early as possible to infants with a wide range of brain conditions and injuries, including:

  • Neonatal encephalopathy
  • Stroke, overseen by a subspecialized Stroke Program
  • Hypotonia
  • Seizures
  • Hydrocephalus
  • Intraventricular hemorrhage
  • Congenital brain malformations

We also provide neurological care of infants with congenital malformations, including heart defects and diaphragmatic hernias.

Our multidisciplinary team of neonatologists, pediatric neurologists, pediatric neurosurgeons, neuroradiologists, specially trained neonatal nurses, physical and occupational therapists, developmental pediatricians, speech and feeding therapists, and geneticists has experience treating children with these conditions, providing ongoing care from before birth through long-term follow-up into adulthood. We use innovative monitoring and treatment methods to provide the highest-quality coordinated care for babies with these disorders, tailoring our approach to the unique developmental and follow-up needs of each child.

Treatment and monitoring options we offer include:

  • Standardized neonatal neurocritical care protocols, with an emphasis on providing the safest, highest-quality care possible
  • Surgical interventions, including early intervention for hydrocephalus
  • Seizure management using advanced monitoring and management, including continuous video EEGs
  • Advanced diagnostics for hypotonia and evaluation of neuromuscular disease using EMG, ultrasound, and genetic testing
  • Therapeutic hypothermia
  • State-of-the-art noninvasive monitoring of infant brain metabolism and blood flow
  • Specialized MR imaging performed by expert neuroradiologists with novel sequence development
  • Support from a dedicated team of critical care neurologists, which covers from early in pregnancy to discharge postnatally and beyond, with neurodevelopmental clinics that extend care to school readiness

Babies prenatally diagnosed with neurologic problems often require specialized care before, during, and after delivery. Our program offers qualified families the option of delivering at our Hospital’s Garbose Family Special Delivery Unit (SDU), the world’s first birth facility in a pediatric hospital specifically designed for mothers carrying babies with known birth defects. By delivering in the SDU, moms can stay close as their babies receive immediate treatment. Having this comprehensive care in one location is critically important to the well-being of babies with these complex congenital conditions.

Our program manages all care, from inpatient to post-discharge follow-up, coordinating with all of the specialists involved to determine a comprehensive care plan and arrange appropriate follow-up appointments. After discharge, children are followed by our Neonatal Follow-up Program and, depending on a child’s specific condition, may also meet with team members from developmental pediatrics, neurology, neurosurgery, the feeding team, and genetics, as well as metabolic specialists.

Much of a child’s long-term neurologic outcome depends on a family having the skills needed to stimulate appropriate development at home. Our team works closely with families to prepare them for their child’s transition to home and outpatient care, familiarizing them with the therapies and technological advances that will aid their child’s progress at home.

Our program is at the forefront of advancing quality of care and treatment options through ongoing research, state-of-the-art monitoring, and cross-discipline collaboration. Our Division of Neonatology — part of the Neonatal Research Network, which is funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development — offers patients access to multicenter clinical trials through the largest neonatal trials network in the country.

We work with team members from various programs throughout CHOP to advance care for neonates. Collaborating with the Hospital’s Fetal Neuroprotection and Neuroplasticity Program, we are researching ways to protect fetal brain development and prevent brain injury before birth in patients with congenital anomalies. Other programmatic collaborations are dedicated to the long-term management of children with stroke, epilepsy, and other neurologic disorders, and studying the neurological development of children with congenital heart disease.

These research efforts will enable us to improve the outcomes of neurologically fragile infants by helping all babies reach their developmental potential.

To learn more, contact the program at 215-590-2616.