NICU Growth and Developmental Support Programs (GraDS)

Children who spend significant time in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) after birth, due to preterm birth or complex medical problems, may benefit from special monitoring and interventions after hospital discharge. The NICU Growth and Developmental Support Program (NICU GraDS) provides ongoing medical and developmental evaluation and support for these children and their families.

NICU GraDS is based at Boston Children’s Hospital and is supported by the Division of Newborn Medicine and the newborn intensive care units (NICUs) at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Boston Children’s. Babies are referred to the program from the NICUs by their nurses and doctors. Referrals can also come from pediatricians, early intervention providers and parents, regardless of birth hospital.

We provide consultation to families and pediatricians regarding developmental and medical issues that are specific to infants at risk for ongoing medical and developmental problems.

Why Choose Boston Children’s for infant follow up?

Our program is proud to provide support to infants after they leave the NICU. We work with community-based primary care pediatricians and medical subspecialists to identify and treat problems specific to infants needing NICU care at birth. We offer consultation with psychology, physical therapy and social work. Unlike other NICU follow-up programs, we see infants born at term with genetic and complex surgical diagnoses in addition to babies born preterm.

How is the NICU GraDS Program different from early intervention?

We provide consultation to families regarding medical and developmental issues that are specific to infants after NICU discharge. Early Intervention provides direct services in your home. Our program performs a comprehensive health and developmental evaluation and gives feedback to families on the child's progress and recommendations for services and activities that can enhance their development. Early Intervention providers are welcome to accompany you on your child's visit to our program.

How Boston Children's approaches prematurity

Our team includes pediatricians, neonatologists, pediatric psychologists, physical therapists and social workers. At each visit, we evaluate your infant's health and development and recommend ways to manage any problems that may arise. We also coordinate referrals to other medical specialties such as Audiology, Growth and Nutrition, Pulmonology, Orthopedics, Ophthalmology, Occupational Therapy and Speech and Language Therapy for evaluations as needed. The NICU GraDS Program strives to integrate care across all specialties to maintain consistent and high-quality care.

Long-term follow-up

NICU GraDS is designed for babies who are born at less than or equal to 32-weeks gestational age, born between 32- and 35-weeks gestational age and have other medical problems, or are born at term with complex surgical or genetic diagnoses. Patients in this program are assessed within three months of NICU discharge and then about every six months until they reach age 3 years. Services include evaluation by a neonatologist, physical therapist, child psychologist, and social worker. Our staff coordinates with your pediatrician, medical subspecialists and your child's early intervention program about any concerns you may have.