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Neonatology

The region's highest level NICU.

When your newborn needs advanced care, trust the neonatology team at Children’s Mercy to provide the highest level of care in the region. With the region’s only top-level (Level IV) Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and partnerships with area hospitals, we bring the best care to babies throughout the Midwest.

Every day, we care for more than 80 fragile newborns in the NICU who have chronic lung disease, complex birth differences or complications of prematurity. We provide advanced treatments like ECMO and therapeutic whole-body cooling that only the leading programs can offer.

The region's highest level NICU, with every specialist in one place


No matter what challenges your baby might face, we have a provider who can help. Children’s Mercy is the only health system in the region that is dedicated solely to pediatric care. Our doctors and nurses know kids, inside and out. With more than 750 pediatric specialists, we provide the very best care, from birth to age 21. All of the specialists on your baby’s care team will work together to develop a care plan with you.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has designated Children’s Mercy as a Level IV NICU. This is the highest designation available and means babies have access to a full range of more than 400 newborn medicine specialists, highly-trained pediatric nurses and anesthesiologists, and specialized equipment for our tiniest patients. We are the only Level IV NICU between St. Louis and Denver and provide transportation and care for babies from across the Midwest.

Expecting moms whose babies need special care before, during or immediately after birth can meet with an integrated team of specialists in our Fetal Health Center. We help families with diagnosis, testing and treatment of complex conditions to help babies get the best possible start in life. Our specialists are able to perform surgery when needed on the tiniest babies—in some cases, even before they are born. We also have an expert Maternal-Fetal Transport team ready at any time to quickly and safely bring expecting moms or newborns to our Adele Hall campus in downtown Kansas City for care.

Caring for newborns in the community


Children’s Mercy takes care of newborns in need of intensive care across the Kansas City metropolitan area through our METRO program. We partner with area hospitals by staffing their NICU with pediatric experts in newborn care from Children’s Mercy. When a baby is born at one of these hospitals and needs advanced care, but does not require a Level IV NICU, Children’s Mercy neonatologists work alongside providers at the partner hospital, seeing every baby every day. Children’s Mercy nurse practitioners are also in the delivery room for babies delivered by C-section with known high-risk needs.


Area partnerships include:

Clinical Services

Although our goal is to get your little one home with your family as soon as possible, you can rest assured that we’ll continue to partner with you in your child’s care as they grow. We’ll help you practice caring for your baby on your own in a transition room before you leave the NICU. We’ll also connect you with our Neonatal Follow-Up Clinics, an integrated team of health care professionals working together to help babies and toddlers with health care needs related to growth and development.

Children's Mercy has one of the most recognized ECMO programs in the country. ECMO is advanced treatment for babies with life-threatening heart and/or lung problems.

The Neonatal Follow-Up Clinics are an integrated team of health care professionals working together to help babies and toddlers with health care needs related to growth and development.

Infant tracheostomy care and home ventilator program is for babies who need ongoing respiratory care.

The Neonatal Evaluation and Outcomes Network (NEON) Clinic provides follow-up care for infants with complex medical problems.

Developmental follow-up services monitors developmental milestones and connect families with additional services when necessary.

Feeding Clinic addresses any factors that impact a child’s desire or ability to eat.

The Critical Congenital Heart Disease Screening Program can detect heart defects in newborns that often have no other symptoms.

Comprehensive evaluation and management of complex cases

Comprehensive evaluation and management of complex cases including: All pediatric subspecialty services, pediatric surgery and surgical subspecialties, genetic and metabolic evaluation and counseling, unique neonatal nutrition and lactation support, clinical pharmacology and pharmacogenetics and a full range of neonatal social work services

Pulmonology Services

Pulmonology services include all forms of mechanical support including high frequency oscillation, comprehensive airway evaluation, tracheostomies and multidisciplinary home ventilator program

Cardiovascular Services

Cardiovascular services including prenatal echocardiography and comprehensive postnatal cardiology evaluations

Conditions

  • Conditions requiring extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO)

  • Congenital infections

  • Encephalopathy

  • Genetic disorders

  • Low birth-weight/preterm newborns

  • Meconium aspiration

  • Metabolic disorders

  • Pulmonary disorders

  • Pulmonary hypertension

  • Respiratory distress syndrome

  • Seizures

  • Sepsis/meningitis

  • Surgical emergencies

Stories

Epidermolysis bullosa simplex: Jaciel’s story

When Jaciel Ceballas Lemus was born, the skin was missing from the palms of his hands and soles of his feet, and soon blisters, some the size of quarters, covered his body. At Children’s Mercy, he was diagnosed with a rare genetic skin disorder called epidermolysis bullosa simplex (EBS). With dedicated support from his family and medical team, Jaciel’s skin now has healed, and he’s home for the first time since his birth.

Meet Jaciel
Baby Jaciel Ceballas Lemus laying in crib with hands wrapped in bandages.

Complications of prematurity: Kieesha's story

Born at just 26 weeks’ gestation, Kieesha Pentlin may have complex medical needs, but with the Children’s Mercy Level IV Neonatal Intensive Care Unit on her side, today she’s not just surviving, she’s thriving!

Meet Kieesha
Kieesha Pentlin laying down with her arms behind her head and smiling.

Protein C deficiency: Will’s story

It wasn’t likely that Amber and Blake McKinnon would have another child with a rare blood clotting disorder, but when it happened, the Children’s Mercy Elizabeth J. Ferrell Fetal Health Center and Level IV Neonatal Intensive Care Unit were there for them. Today, their second son, Will, is a healthy toddler thanks to the lifesaving care he received as soon as he was born.

Meet Will
Color photo of Will McKinnon and his brother, Ben. Ben is sitting behind Will with his hands on his shoulders smiling.

Research and Innovation

At Children’s Mercy, we’ve been turning research into results for more than 40 years for babies with chronic lung disease through advanced treatments like nitric oxide therapy and ECMO. Our researchers also study how medications impact the smallest babies to ensure that they get exactly the right amount of medicine at the right time to help them get better.

The Genomic Medicine Center at Children's Mercy helps to quickly diagnose children with rare or complex medical conditions and connect them with the latest treatment options.

The Donald W. Thibeault Neonatal Lung and Immunology Lab conducts studies into various aspects of neonatal lung disease and bowel disease. The researchers continue the vision of Dr. Thibeault, who was passionate about translating research into better care for babies.

The Center for Infant Pulmonary Disorders is dedicated to improving treatments for chronic lung disease in infants.