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Neonatology is a field of medicine that focuses on caring for newborn babies, particularly ill or premature newborns. It is a subspecialty of pediatrics. A medical professional who specializes in neonatology is called a neonatologist. The difference between a pediatrician and a neonatologist is that, while pediatricians are qualified to solve most health problems of newborns, neonatologists are trained specifically to handle the most complex and high-risk situations. Neonatologists can also provide antenatal consultation for women with certain risk factors, such as multiple births.
Neonatologists’ main patients are newborn infants who are ill or in need of special medical attention due to congenital malformations (birth defects), low birth weight, prematurity, intrauterine growth restriction, pulmonary hypoplasia, seizures, hydrocephalus, birth asphyxia, or sepsis. In general, neonatologist provides the following care:
Some of the diagnostic tests and treatments that neonatologists perform include newborn screening tests, imaging tests (such as CT scans and MRI), laboratory tests, APGAR scores, breathing treatments, phototherapy, and surgical procedures.
The length of stay in Bangkok depends on the mother’s and the baby’s condition and the type of treatment they receive. In most cases, the baby may need to stay in the hospital for two to three weeks. However, you should not leave Bangkok immediately after your baby is discharged. It generally takes at least 8 weeks until it is safe for your baby to fly on an airplane or travel a long distance.
The specific condition of your baby and the treatment they underwent will determine the recovery time. It can take a day to several weeks until the baby’s condition stabilize and then starts to improve.
Your neonatologist will give you detailed instructions on how to care for your baby during and after their recovery period. Make sure to follow all of the instructions. You may also need to take your baby for regular checkups. However, you can choose to have these checkups with your local doctor at home if you prefer.
Neonatology continues to improve and advance each year. With advances in pediatric anesthesia and airway management, the establishment of NICU, a better understanding of transitional neonatal physiology, and the introduction of total parenteral nutrition have improved the survival rates of newborn babies who need neonatal surgery. Of course, there are still risks and side effects to be aware of, but the procedures are now safer than ever.
For complex and high-risk situations in newborn babies, there are no other alternatives than seeing a neonatologist.