Why Choose CHOP Neonatal Intensive Care

Our comprehensive care

US News Neonatology Badge The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia opened the first surgical neonatal intensive care unit in the nation in 1962. Today, the 95-bed state-of-the-art facility at our Main Hospital provides the full spectrum of specialized, multidisciplinary intensive care services for newborns and infants. In December 2023, CHOP expanded its N/IICU services with the opening of an 18-bed Level III unit at the Middleman Family Pavilion on our King of Prussia campus

The N/IICU receives more than 1,000 inpatient admissions per year and treats more than 4,000 medically fragile babies in the N/IICU, neonatology specialty programs, and throughout the CHOP Care Network.

Our team treats the sickest children with the most difficult and complex diagnoses. including all types of respiratory, surgical, cardiac, genetic, renal, neurological, hematological and metabolic diseases. We have cared for babies as young as 23-weeks gestation and as small as one pound at birth.

CHOP’s N/IICU is a primary referral center from other neonatal intensive care units in the region. We provide care for neonates and infants from more than 80 hospitals representing nine states. In particular, infants with severe chronic lung disease and hyperinsulinism are frequently referred on both the national and international level to the NI/ICU for highly specialized care.

The N/IICU is a center of excellence in family-centered care and support for breastfeeding of infants with serious medical problems. The nursing staff is involved in research and education regarding the use of human milk in high-risk infants and management of breastfeeding failure.

Our recognized excellence

Neonatology at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) is consistently ranked among the top programs in the nation by U.S. News & World Report’s ratings of Best Children's Hospitals. The division has been noted for the exemplary reputation of its physicians, superior nurse/patient ratios and availability of multidisciplinary specialists.

Our specialized programs

The N/IICU at Children's Hospital is a center of excellence for the management of infants with severe chronic lung disease. Many infants admitted to the N/IICU are referred specifically to receive treatment for severe lung disease that is not available at the referring hospital. For details, see Newborn and Infant Chronic Lung Disease Program.

  • Children's Hospital operates a comprehensive Neonatal Follow-Up Program that monitors the physical and cognitive development of high-risk premature patients well into their childhood years, providing information, education and support for families.
  • Children's Hospital's Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) program has provided support to more than 250 infants with severe respiratory failure since its inception in 1990.

Our collaboration

The N/IICU team collaborates with the Richard D. Wood Jr. Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment at CHOP, an internationally recognized leader in fetal diagnosis, fetal surgery and fetal care. The Center offers highly specialized care to mothers carrying fetuses with known birth defects that require fetal surgery and treatment before or after birth.

In 2008, the Center opened the Garbose Family Special Delivery Unit, the first comprehensive birth facility housed in a pediatric hospital for women carrying babies with known birth defects. Mother, baby and family are in one space for labor, birth and the postpartum experience, and families take comfort knowing that the most advanced intensive care units and operative facilities are within steps of their delivery rooms.

More than half of the babies born in the Special Delivery Unit are cared for in the N/IICU; babies with heart issues are treated in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit.

The N/IICU staff also partners with the Maternal/Fetal Medicine Program at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, one of the nation's leading programs in high-risk pregnancy and delivery. This collaborative program trains future leaders in clinical care and research.

Our research

Children's Hospital physician-scientists have made seminal contributions to the field of Neonatology. These include the establishment of two therapies as standard neonatal treatments:

  • Prenatal corticosteroids
  • Pulmonary surfactant

Areas of special clinical and research expertise in the N/IICU include the management and treatment of:

  • Persistent pulmonary hypertension
  • Bronchopulmonary dysplasia and other severe lung disease in newborns
  • Metabolic illnesses
  • Hypoglycemia due to pancreatic abnormalities
  • Complex congenital anomalies
  • Complex post-operative care