Very few times in life do parents go to the hospital expecting a happy, joyous outcomes as the birth of a baby. But when things don't turn out as expected and the baby winds up in the NICU, parents are left worried, anxious and overwhelmed. Parents pass the days by counting ounces feed, weight gained, the number of procedures and surgeries, and days spent in the NICU.

So what's the best way to care for NICU babies?  A new study published in Pediatrics compared the outcomes of NICU babies cared for in open bay units versus single family room care. At first glance, babies in single family room care showed much better outcomes, including:

  • weighed more at discharge (P = .005),
  • had a greater rate of weight gain (P = .017),
  • required fewer medical procedures (P = .009),
  • were younger at gestational age at full enteral feeding (P = .015),
  • experienced less sepsis (P = .050)
  • increased attention (P = .012),
  • less physiologic stress (P < .000),
  • less hypertonicity (P = .021),
  • less lethargy (P = .024), and
  • lower Premature Infant Pain Scores (P < .000).

However, when researchers looked more closely at the data, they found while care in single family rooms may improve outcomes, "these improvements are related to increased developmental support and maternal involvement" and not only the type of unit in which the infant received care. It was support given to the family; the family centered, trauma informed, care approach which may have made the difference. Researchers concluded "that incorporating appropriate maternal involvement, developmental support, and staff involvement could improve neonatal care in any model of care."

Does your unit follow a family centered, trauma informed, care model? What differences in outcomes for patients, families, or even staff, do you see?