Special Newborn Care Units: Comprehensive Neonatal Care Facilities


What is SNCU?

Specialised healthcare facilities known as Special Newborn Care Units (SNCUs) are devoted to offering babies thorough medical care, especially those who are born prematurely or with medical difficulties. In order to highlight their crucial role in preserving the survival and well-being of vulnerable neonates, this article will examine the numerous facilities and services provided within SNCUs.

What are the Facilites of SNCU?

  • Equipment & Infrastructure :

The facilities and tools that SNCUs have to provide are covered in this section. It addresses the significance of a thoughtful physical layout with designated sections for infants, isolation rooms, and areas for medical personnel. The essay emphasises the value of medical tools such incubators, radiant heaters, phototherapy machines, ventilators, and heart monitoring that allow accurate monitoring of newborns.

                                                             PHOTOTHERAPY ON NEW BORN


  • Medical Staff:

This page concentrates on the qualified medical staff members who serve as the SNCUs' skeleton. In order to provide babies with complete care, a broad team of healthcare professionals, are there. The importance of their knowledge of specialised equipment, proficiency with neonatal care, and capacity to react quickly to any medical problems are all emphasised in the essay.

  • Neonatal Monitoring and Support :

This section explores the monitoring and support services available within SNCUs. Here in SNCU we monitor the vital signs, such as heart rate, respiratory rate, oxygen saturation, and temperature. The article also highlights the administration of intravenous fluids, nutritional support, and medication management to address the specific needs of each newborn. It also provide respiratory support, including  ventilation, as well as specialized care for infants with respiratory distress syndrome (RDS) or other respiratory conditions.

  • Infection Control and Hygiene Practices:

This section focuses on the crucial aspect of infection control and hygiene within SNCUs. It discusses the strict protocols followed to minimize the risk of healthcare-associated infections. The article highlights measures such as hand hygiene, sterilization of equipment, proper waste management, and isolation techniques to prevent the spread of infections among vulnerable newborns.

  • Family-Centered Care and Support Services :

The final section explores the family-centered care and support services provided within SNCUs. It discusses the significance of involving parents in the care of their newborns, including kangaroo care, breastfeeding support, and parental education on infant care. The article also highlights the provision of psychological and emotional support to parents, recognizing the stress and anxiety that often accompanies the hospitalization of their newborns.

What is different between SNCU & NICU?

Both the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) and the SNCU (Special Newborn Care Unit) are specialised healthcare facilities for treatment of babies. There are considerable differences between SNCU and NICU, despite the fact that they both focus on newborn care. Here are some significant variations:

  • Care Level: 

When compared to SNCU, NICU normally provides a higher level of care. Intensive care for critically ill neonates, particularly those with exceptionally low birth weights, complicated medical issues, or requiring advanced life support, is provided in NICUs. SNCUs, on the other hand, focus frequently on the care of premature children or those with particular medical needs, and they serve infants who are moderately unwell or stable but still need specialised care.

  • Infrastructure and Equipment:

NICUs typically have more sophisticated infrastructure and a greater variety of medical equipment because to the difference in the quality of care provided. Modern tools for sophisticated respiratory support, surgery, and specialised monitoring are frequently seen in NICUs. SNCUs may feature a significantly smaller selection of equipment than NICUs, despite the fact that they are likewise outfitted with medical technology.

  • Staffing and Expertise:

Neonatologists, specialised nurses, respiratory therapists, and other specialists who are trained to handle difficult medical conditions are frequently employed in NICUs. While neonatal care specialists are employed by SNCUs as well, they might have a somewhat different staff-to-patient ratio and may not need as much specialised training as NICUs.

  • Patient Population:

Neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) typically care for newborns with serious medical issues that need extensive medical interventions. These facilities are set up to manage difficult operations, lengthy stays, and specialised care. On the other hand, neonates that are moderately unwell, have less serious medical issues, or need less intensive care treatments are routinely cared for in SNCUs. SNCUs frequently concentrate on controlling particular medical disorders like jaundice or respiratory distress syndrome as well as giving specialised care to premature infants.

NICUs are frequently found in larger hospitals or medical facilities that offer cutting-edge paediatric services. They are more likely to have the resources and knowledge necessary to handle complex issues. While also present in major hospitals and medical facilities, SNCUs can also be found in smaller ones, offering, to the extent possible, specialised treatment to a greater population of infants.

What are the admission criteria of SNCU?

(I). Criteria for babies to be admitted in SNCU for inborn babies:

1. Infants who are born prior to 34 weeks gestation

2. Infants weighing 1800 grams at birth (regardless of gestational age). *( Neonates weighing less than 1.2 Kg should be referred to the higher centre after proper stabilization)

3. Infants with an APGAR score of < 6 at 1 min and evidence of birth asphyxia or delayed cry after 5 minutes. (i.e slow gasping respiration or no respiration at 1 minute)

4. After prolonged Resuscitation that is after using Bag and mask or Bag and tube.

5. Persistent respiratory Distress.

6. Shock or CRT > 3 seconds

7. Central cyanosis

8. Vomiting ---especially bile stained

9. Small for date esp. Wt. less than 3rd centile for the corresponding gestational age

10.Neonates with surgical problems should also be referred after stabilizing.

11.Any infant who is felt to be at risk by the nursing staff or Doctor

12. Any infant with a birth weight of <1800 grams & /or ><34 weeks must be admitted to the SNCU for a minimum of 24 hours. > <1800 grams &/or <34 wks mustr be admitted to SNCU for 24 hrs

 (II). Criteria for baby <28 days ti be admitted in SNCU from the community:

1. Delayed cry after 5 minutes

2. Respiratory distress with Tachypnea, grunt , Chest indrawing or central cyanosis

3. Central cyanosis or spells

4. Vomiting esp. Bile stained

5. Abdominal distension

6. Suspected sepsis but child unstable

7. Unstable Babies with congenital abnormality requiring investigation

8. Jaundice requiring Exchange transfusion

9. Neonates in shock (*CRT > 3 seconds, poor skin colour , cold extremities, weak pulses and mottled skin )

10.Fits including subtle signs (refer to neonatal convulsion for details)

11.Low birth weight < 1800 gm or unstable baby

12.Severe Asphyxia, RDS or is satisfying the above criteria of admission to SNCU



Special Newborn Care Units (SNCUs) serve as comprehensive facilities dedicated to providing specialized medical care for critically ill neonates. With well-designed infrastructure, advanced medical equipment, skilled healthcare professionals, and a family-centered approach, SNCUs play a pivotal role in improving neonatal outcomes and reducing infant mortality. These facilities offer a range of services, including intensive monitoring, specialized interventions, infection control measures, and family support services. By continuing to invest in and expand SNCUs, we can ensure that vulnerable newborns receive the critical care they need during the crucial early stages of life, providing them with a higher chance of survival and a healthier future.



Q1:What is SNCU?

A1: An SNCU stands for Special Newborn Care Unit. It is a specialized facility within a hospital that provides comprehensive medical care to sick or premature newborns who require intensive care.


Q2: What services are provided in an SNCU?

A2: SNCUs offer a range of services, including specialized medical care for newborns, monitoring vital signs, respiratory support, phototherapy for jaundice, temperature regulation, intravenous medications, nutritional support, and infection management. They also provide skilled nursing care and support for mothers.


Q3: Who is eligible for admission to an SNCU?

A3: Newborns who are sick, premature, or have low birth weight are eligible for admission to an SNCU. The criteria for admission vary, but generally, babies with respiratory distress, severe infections, birth asphyxia, jaundice, or other critical conditions may be admitted.


Q4: How long do newborns stay in an SNCU?

A4: The length of stay in an SNCU varies depending on the newborn's condition. It can range from a few days to several weeks or even months for extremely premature or critically ill babies. The medical team determines the discharge based on the baby's progress and stability.


Q5: Are parents allowed to stay with their babies in the SNCU?

A5: Many SNCUs encourage parental involvement and allow parents to stay with their babies. This helps in bonding and enables parents to actively participate in their baby's care. However, specific policies regarding parental presence may vary between different hospitals and units.