NICU Babies in the Era of COVID-19

by DeeAnna Serna, RCP, RRT-NPS, AE-C

Hello there, let me tell you a little about me before I get into all the details of this topic.

My name is D’Anna I am a respiratory therapist with about 20+ years of experience, I’ve been a NICU therapist since 2000.  I now work in the outpatient setting as an Asthma educator and Cystic Fibrosis specialist.

So … Fortunately I know about respiratory diseases, this virus is novel thus the N in 2019-nCoVand we are learning on the daily.  

What we do know.

The symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure.* source https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath  

The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus.

While that may go without saying… here is a link with information on prevention and cleaning CDC-Covid-19 prevention

I state this information for background.  

Now what does this mean for our babies in the NICU?  

The short answer is that there is not enough information out there, because we have (fortunately) have not gotten report of an exposure of Covid-19 in a NICU.

As this is an emerging virus most of the information is based on effects on pregnancy and newborns (term gestation).  

There is a small amount of data regarding delivery of infants to Covid-19+ mothers and the outcomes following delivery.  Covid-19 pregnant women-and-impact-newborns

 What we as a team can do (family & medical) is prevention.

Strict visitation policies, effective hand washing and cleaning of equipment.

Staying home if you feel ill and clean handling of breast milk if one does have symptoms.

While this may seem like repetition … it is because we all need daily reminders.  

I am grateful that I have heard no reports of this organism in a NICU and we must all work together to keep it this way. When more information becomes available I will be happy to update.

So I close saying … stay strong and vigilant. These little ones are being born into a very different world.  You as always make the difference and we as your NICU team are here to help and support you in any way we can.

Be well and take care of each other …

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DeeAnna Serna is a Respiratory Therapist in Southern California. She has worked in the NICU and is currently the Lead Respiratory Therapist for the Pediatric Pulmonary & Sleep Medicine Clinic as well as the Adult & Pediatric Cystic Fibrosis Clinics.

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