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Child development, Infant, Neonatal intensive care unit, Physiologic adaptation



  1. Byers, Jacqueline Fowler PhD, RN, CNAA


Developmental care, a philosophy of care that requires rethinking the relationships between infants, families, and healthcare providers, is in place in the majority of neonatal intensive care units in the United States. Developmental care includes a variety of activities designed to manage the environment and individualize the care of the premature infant based on behavioral observations. The goal is to promote a stable, well-organized infant who can conserve energy for growth and development. Research about the effects of developmental care has shown a trend toward improved short-term physiologic, development, and resource utilization outcomes for infants up to 24 months of age, but benefits beyond this age are unclear. Most of the research has focused on developmental care as a whole, but there is also strong scientific evidence for specific components of developmental care. The NICU care provider should use developmental care interventions that are clearly supported by evidence, and use others based on judgment and the infant's responses.