Helping to improve long-term outcomes for very premature babies.

Glossary

Some of the equipment surrounding your baby and some of the words that you hear may confuse or frighten you.

The brief explanations listed on this page are intended to help you, but please ask for more information if there is anything that you don’t understand

A



Anemia

Not enough red blood cells or haemoglobin in the blood.

Apnoea
A momentary stopping of breathing.

Apneoa Monitor
A small box which sits on top of the incubator or at the head of the cot and will sound an alarm if your baby forgets to breath.

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B


Bilirubin
A breakdown product of blood which can cause jaundice.

Blood Gas Test
A small amount of blood is tested to determine the oxygen and carbon dioxide levels. The result will allow the doctor to adjust the ventilator settings and/or oxygen level.

Bradycardia (Brady)
A slowing of the heart rate below 100, causing the monitor to alarm.

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C


Cardio-respiratory Monitor
Measures your baby’s heart and breathing rate via three electrodes. Sometimes you will hear the alarms ring – this is a warning sign and does not necessarily mean that your baby’s condition has suddenly deteriorated.

Chest Tube
This is passed through the chest wall between the ribs and connected to a drainage bottle and suction to treat a pneumothorax (see under ‘p’ definitions in this section).

Chronic Lung Disease (sometimes referred to as Broncho-Pulmonary Dysplasia)
A lung problem that sometimes occurs in babies who have been ventilated. The lungs usually recover in time.

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D


Dextrostix
A measurement of blood sugar obtained from a small amount of blood taken by pricking the heel.

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E


Electrode
A circular, adhesive disc which is connected to a cardio-respiratory monitor and is placed on the baby’s chest to measure heart and breathing rate.

Endo-tracheal Tube
A plastic tube that is passed through the nose or mouth into the trachea (windpipe) and connected to a ventilator.

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F


None at this time

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G


Gavage Feeding
Method of feeding breast milk or formula through a small tube passed through the baby’s mouth or nose and into the stomach.

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H


Haemoglobin (Hb)
The iron-containing part of the red cells which carry oxygen from the lungs throughout the body.

Head Box
A small Perspex box is placed over the baby’s head if additional oxygen is required.

HMD (Hyaline Membrane Disease)
A lung disorder often occurring in premature babies in which the tiny air sacs of the lungs may collapse.

Hypoglycaemia
Low blood sugar

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I


Incubator or Isolette
A large heated Perspex box with cupboards underneath. Your baby may need to be in an incubator because he is small and needs oxygen to make breathing easier.

Intravenous Infusion (drip)
A sterile fluid is given through a tube flowing at a regular rate into a vein in the arm, leg or umbilical cord. This will be held in place with sticking plaster and a splint.

IPPV (Intermittent Positive Pressure Ventilation)
Using an endo-tracheal tube attached to a ventilator, the air pressure in the lungs is repeatedly increased, to inflate the lungs, and then released, allowing the lungs to deflate.

IVH (Intra-Ventricular Haemorrhage)
Bleeding into the cavities situated in the center of the brain which are normally filled with a watery fluid. It may be detected by ultrasound.

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J


Jaundice
Yellow colour of skin caused by too much bilirubin in the blood.

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K


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L


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M


Meconium
A dark green substance found in the baby’s intestines at birth and passed in the first bowel action.

Mucous
Fluid secreted by the membranes of the nose and trachea (windpipe).

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N


NCPAP (Nasal Continuous Airway Pressure)
Continuous distending pressure delivered by inserting small tubes into the nose.

NEC (Necrotising Enterocolitis)
Inflammation of the bowel.

Neonatal Screening Test
A routine test on the blood of all babies to check for metabolic disorders.

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O


Oedema
The presence of too much fluid in the tissues, often seen in the eyelids feet and hands.

Orogastric Feed
Feeding tube remains inserted, whereas gavage feeding tubes are intermittantly insterted. ie. Inserted for each feed.

Oximeter
Gives readings for the saturation of oxygen in the blood by attaching a probe to your baby’s hand or foot.

Oxygen Analyser
Measures the amount of oxygen in the air that your baby is breathing.

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P


PDA (Patent Ductus Arteriosus)
A large open vessel near the heart.

Phototherapy Lights
These bright lights are placed over your baby’s incubator to help the jaundice fade. While your baby is having phototherapy he will be naked except for eye pads to protect his eyes.

Pneumothorax
Occurs when air escapes into the chest cavity from the lungs .

Parenteral Nutrition
Feeding completely or partly by giving a solution of glucose and other nutrients into a vein. Used when a baby is too sick or too small to have enough breast milk or formula.

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Q


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R


Respiration
Breathing

ROP (Retinotherapy of Prematurity)
A condition which may develop in the eyes of some premature babies.

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S


Sepsis
An infection of the blood or other parts of the body.

Sterile
Free from germs.

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T


TCM or TINA (Trans-cutaneous Monitor)
A probe placed on the skin to measure oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood.

Top-up Transfusion
Premature babies can become anaemic and require small blood transfusions.

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U


Urinalysis
A chemical test of the baby’s urine.

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V


Ventilator or Respirator
Some babies need this machine to help them breathe if they are too sick or too small to do so for themselves.

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W


Wet-lung
Breathing difficulty due to too much fluid in the lungs. It normally improves and is not serious.

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Y


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Z


Resource Links

 The following resources have been chosen to provide a range of websites that may be found useful during your time at home with your baby and with your family.

Victorian Infants Collaborative Studies

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