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NICU Design Can Improve Outcomes For Preterm Infants


​For Release:  September 22, 2014

Preterm infants placed in a single-family room in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) – compared to the open bay environment - weighed more at discharge, had greater rates of weight gain, required fewer medical procedures, and had better attention, lower stress levels and less pain, according to the study, “Single-Family Room Care and Neurobehavioral and Medical Outcomes in Preterm Infants,” appearing in the October 2014 Pediatrics, (published online Sept. 22). Study authors showed these improvements were due to increased developmental support and maternal involvement in the single-family room environment. The authors found that the higher levels of developmental support in single-family room NICUs are what lead to increased weight gain, while increased maternal involvement led to fewer medical procedures. Increased developmental support led to better attention and increased maternal involvement led to less stress and pain. Since the single-family room NICU is associated with better infant recovery, it may reduce the likelihood or severity of impairments due to premature birth. Study authors conclude that models of care, such as the single-family room NICU, that provide appropriate levels of developmental, maternal and staff support can improve outcomes for preterm infants.


The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 62,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit

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