Neonatal Care | Pediatrics


Neonatal Care

At our nationally ranked and level 4-designated neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), your newborn is in expert hands.

Medically reviewed on June 05, 2023.

Dad holding NICU baby with mom and two older brothers gathered around smiling

Life-Saving Care for Your Newborn

If your baby is born early (premature), has an illness or requires surgery, you want the best care possible. Physicians and families across Northern California turn to us for advanced newborn care — you can, too.

Our NICU features specialty trained healthcare providers, the latest technology and a healing environment for your little one.

Our Difference

High-Level Newborn Care

Our level 4 NICU – the highest level, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics – has the staff and facilities to provide complete intensive care services. Your child receives 24/7 attention from a skilled and compassionate team that includes neonatal physicians (neonatologists), nurses and nurse practitioners. They work with a wide range of pediatric specialists, therapists, social workers and Child Life specialists to provide seamless care.

Innovative Technology

Our state-of-the-art technology is vital to your newborn’s care. Advanced tools help us track your baby’s progress. They also help your baby breathe and keep a steady body temperature. We are one of only a few hospitals in California to offer extra-corporeal life support (ECLS) for critically ill infants. ECLS is a life-saving system that takes over for the heart and lungs.

National Recognition

Our NICU is a designated level 4 nursery (the highest possible rating) for the Sacramento region. UC Davis Health has received the Platinum Level ELSO Award for Excellence in Life Support for our skill in extra-corporeal life support (ECLS). These distinctions reflect our commitment to ensuring all families in Northern California have access to first-class neonatal care.

Secure Video Streaming

Family members of newborns in the NICU can’t always be at their bedside. We help you stay connected with secure video streaming. Every NICU bed has a webcam, so family and friends can log into the link at any time. A UC Davis Health study found that watching the video feed improved mothers’ ability to pump breastmilk while their baby was in the NICU.

Innovative Research

Our physicians provide world-class care and improve that care through research. We participate in national clinical trials and lead our own studies. Our current projects aim at understanding risk factors for premature birth, reducing infections in newborns and improving family-centered care.

Comfortable Accommodations

If you live outside the Sacramento area, we help you find lodging at the Ronald McDonald House and Kiwanis Family House. These residences provide a comfortable home-away-from-home and allow you to stay close to your newborn. We also offer overnight sleeping rooms in the hospital to help you gain experience caring for your baby before going home.


What is Neonatal Intensive Care?

Neonatal intensive care provides constant monitoring and specialized treatments for newborns with critical medical conditions. At UC Davis Health, our NICU teams recognize the vital role you play in your child’s care. We welcome you into the NICU and include you in morning check-ins and care team discussions.

Common Conditions Our Neonatologists Treat:

Congenital Disorders

Congenital (at birth) disorders are problems that develop during pregnancy. They affect the structure of your baby’s body and can be mild or life-threatening. Congenital heart disease is the most common type of congenital disorder.


Babies are premature when born before 37 weeks (a full-term pregnancy is 39 to 40 weeks). Because premature babies have less time to develop, they may have health problems, such as breathing or digestive issues.

Newborn Health Conditions

Health conditions that require NICU care include infections, lack of oxygen during delivery (birth asphyxia) and drug withdrawal. We also treat jaundice — a buildup of a substance (bilirubin) in the blood that can turn your baby’s skin yellow.


Neonatal Intensive Care Services

At UC Davis Health, providing exceptional care is our top priority. From before your baby’s NICU stay to after their discharge — you find services designed to meet your baby’s and family’s needs.

Our services include:

Fetal Care

Your obstetrician may find a problem with your baby’s development during pregnancy. Our neonatologists work closely with specialists in our Fetal Care and Treatment Center to plan for your baby’s care after delivery. This collaboration ensures your baby gets the care they need from birth.

Explore our Fetal Care and Treatment Center
Telehealth Consultations

Our neonatologists consult with physicians throughout Northern California through our pediatric telehealth program. Your baby’s physician receives expert diagnostic and treatment guidance. A consultation can help your newborn stay close to home at your community hospital, instead of traveling to Sacramento.

Learn about our pediatric telehealth program
Transport Services

If your baby needs to come to us from another hospital, our neonatal transport team is ready and waiting. We provide around-the-clock air and ground transport services across our 33-county service area. Transport team members have extensive experience and the latest medical equipment to safely bring your child to our NICU.

See more about our neonatal transport team
Breastfeeding Support

Breastfeeding can be challenging when your baby is in the NICU. Our nurses and certified lactation consultants help you learn how to pump breast milk and breastfeed when your baby is ready. We also offer hotline support to connect you with our team 24/7.

View breastfeeding, prenatal and postnatal support services
Breastmilk Analysis

Our breastmilk analysis program ensures premature babies get all the benefits of breastfeeding and the nutrition they need to grow. We measure the nutritional content of your breastmilk using a Miris Human Milk Analyzer (HMA™) machine. If needed, our team adds nutrients to meet your baby’s growth needs.

Read more about breastmilk analysis
Post-NICU Follow Up

After your baby leaves the NICU, you may receive care through our Baby Steps Clinic at the UC Davis MIND Institute. A multidisciplinary team monitors your baby’s development. If they find developmental delays, they provide treatment and support, which can help improve the outlook for your child.

Learn more about our Baby Steps Clinic

Why Neonatal Care Matters

Without rapid, skilled intervention, babies born sick or early may not survive. Our experienced and compassionate NICU teams provide neonatal care for over 850 newborns each year.

  • Of every 100 babies born in the US, about 10 are premature and 3 have a birth difference (defect).
  • Having access to NICU care reduces fetal deaths.
  • Our NICU admits infants who are either born at UC Davis or are transferred from other hospitals within our 33-county service area. That area stretches from Central California to the Oregon and Nevada borders.
Sleeping baby wearing a beanie with a heart monitor and tube coming from his nose

"Premature Birth," Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 

"Birth Defects," CDC,

"Can available interventions end preventable deaths in mothers, newborn babies, and stillbirths, and at what cost?" NIH National Library of Medicine, 

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Awards and Recognitions
USNWR Best Hospital badge

Ranked among the nation’s best hospitals

A U.S. News & World Report best hospital in cancer, cardiology, heart & vascular surgery, diabetes & endocrinology, ENT, geriatrics, neurology & neurosurgery, orthopedics, and pulmonology & lung surgery.

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US News & World Report best Children’s Hospital badge

Ranked among the nation’s best children’s hospitals

A U.S. News & World Report best children’s hospital in diabetes & endocrinology, nephrology, and orthopedics*. (*Together with Shriners Children’s)

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USNWR best regional hospital badge

Ranked Sacramento’s #1 hospital

Ranked Sacramento’s #1 hospital by U.S. News, and high-performing in back surgery, COPD, colon cancer surgery, gynecological cancer surgery, heart attack, heart failure, hip fracture, kidney failure, leukemia, lymphoma & myeloma, lung cancer surgery, pneumonia, prostate cancer surgery, stroke, TAVR, and gastroenterology & GI surgery.

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Magnet designation badge

The nation’s highest nursing honor

UC Davis Medical Center has received Magnet® recognition, the nation’s highest honor for nursing excellence.

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Chime acute badge

“Most Wired” for acute care

UC Davis Health has been recognized as a level 10 out of 10 in the Digital Health “Most Wired” program from the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME). The honor recognizes excellence in using technology to improve the delivery of care.

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Chime ambulatory badge

“Most Wired” for ambulatory care

UC Davis Health has been recognized as a level 10 out of 10 in the Digital Health “Most Wired” program from the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME). The honor recognizes excellence in using technology to improve the delivery of care.

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NCI badge

World-class cancer care

One of ~56 U.S. cancer centers designated “comprehensive” by the National Cancer Institute.

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A leader in health care equality

For the 13th consecutive year, UC Davis Medical Center has been recognized as an LGBTQ+ Healthcare Equality Leader by the educational arm of America’s largest civil rights organization.

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