Babies who have spent their first few weeks or months in a neonatal intensive care unit and/or those who have been born with congenital, physical, or neurodevelopmental disabilities often require special follow-up care and interventions to reach their full potential.
The Kireker Center for Child Development’s Neurodevelopmental Follow-up Services provide ongoing evaluations, assessments, and referrals to physicians and therapists for children ages 4 months to 5 years who need extra help to meet their developmental milestones. Even if your baby was not treated in The Valley Hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit or another hospital’s NICU, he/she can benefit from our services if you or your child’s pediatrician has concerns about his/her physical, cognitive, or social development.
Our board-certified neonatologists and certified pediatric nurse practitioner coordinate each child’s follow-up care with your private pediatrician. Because the Kireker Center is a multidisciplinary center, we work closely with our physicians, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists, and audiologists to ensure that your child receives appropriate services. If your child needs further evaluation, we can refer him/her to our neurodevelopmental pediatrician, neurologist, and/or physiatrist or to other physicians and health care professionals in the community. We are also available to speak with child-study teams, teachers, and other education professionals as your child prepares to enter school.
If you wish to schedule a neurodevelopmental evaluation, we encourage you to call your pediatrician, nurse practitioner, or other health care provider, or call us directly at the Kireker Center for Child Development at 201-612-1006.
Before Baby Goes Home
Our Neurodevelopmental Follow-up Services often begin while your baby is still hospitalized in our neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Our coordinator, a certified pediatric nurse practitioner, meets weekly with the NICU’s neonatologists, nurses, social workers, home care personnel, and discharge planners for medical and social updates on all hospitalized babies.
Not all NICU graduates require Neurodevelopmental Follow-up Services, but those who may benefit include:
- babies born before 34 weeks’ gestation
- babies born with or experiencing neurological abnormalities, such as low muscle tone, seizures, bleeding in the brain
- babies with congenital defects, such as club foot or heart problems
- babies with genetic disorders, including Down syndrome and degenerative neuro-muscular diseases
- babies who have experienced infections or significant respiratory distress after birth
If your baby spent time in The Valley Hospital neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and meets the criteria for neurodevelopmental follow-up services, our coordinator, a certified pediatric nurse practitioner, will call you when your baby is about 4 months of corrected age. You will then have the opportunity to make an appointment for your baby for a neurodevelopmental evaluation. If your baby was not hospitalized in our NICU or another hospital’s NICU but you would like to have your baby evaluated, you are welcome to call us at 201-612-1006 to set up an appointment.
Our neurodevelopmental evaluations are quite extensive and take about one to one and one-half hours to complete. You will be present at all times during the evaluation and are welcome to bring bottles, drinks, or snacks for your child. The evaluation includes three major components:
- Parent(s) interview: We will discuss your child’s development so far, including eating, sleeping, playing, and interacting with the environment.
- Assessment of child: Using special toys, hands-on play, and feeding activities, we will evaluate your child’s:
- adaptive skills
- gross motor skills
- fine motor skills
- speech and language
- personal/social skills
- Physical exam: This is not the regular well-baby exam that your pediatrician does, but an exam that focuses on your child’s neurological reflexes, muscle tone, coordination, and other physical attributes. Your child’s weight, height, and blood pressure will be measured.
During the exam, we may bring in one of our physical, occupational, or speech therapists to do a brief consultation. Once all of the components of the evaluation have been completed, our coordinator will go over her assessment with you and make recommendations for any therapy or additional evaluations from physicians that will benefit your child. Your child’s private pediatrician will receive a copy of our results for your child’s records. We are available to speak with your pediatrician about any of these results.
Because parent education and your participation are crucial to your child’s ongoing development, we will make suggestions as to ways you can continue your child’s progress at home, such as increasing tummy time, encouraging reaching skills, and practicing visual tracking skills.
Our Follow-up Services
In general, we recommend that you bring your child back for a second neurodevelopmental evaluation six months after the initial evaluation and then for a third evaluation at 18 to 24 months of age.
Our follow-up services also include:
- referrals to physical, occupational, and/or speech therapists and/or an audiologist
- referrals to our neurodevelopmental pediatrician, physiatrist, neurologist, or other physician
- regular consultations with your child’s neonatologist, pediatrician, therapists, and/or neurodevelopmental pediatrician
- referrals to community resources
- referrals to Early Intervention Programs for children under 3 years of age
Our Neurodevelopmental Follow-up Services are coordinated by our board-certified neonatologists and our certified pediatric nurse practitioner, Susan Bell, RN, MSN, APN, CPNP. Ms. Bell completed her bachelor of science in nursing degree and her master of science in nursing degree at the University of Rochester in New York State. She is certified as an advanced practice nurse by the American Nurses Credentialing Center and the New Jersey Board of Nursing.
To Make an Appointment
To make an appointment for a neurodevelopmental evaluation for your baby or young child, call Susan Bell at 201-612-1006 weekdays between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. We are located on the first floor of The Valley Hospital Kireker Center for Child Development at 505 Goffle Road, Ridgewood, N.J. 07450.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. How long will my baby’s neurodevelopmental evaluation take to complete?
A. About one to one and one-half hours.
Q. Does my baby have to undergo any invasive tests?
A. No, the evaluation includes a parent interview so we can learn more about your baby’s development, a playtime with toys and activities, and a physical exam to check your baby’s neurological reflexes, muscle tone, coordination, and other physical attributes. There are no injections, blood tests, or other invasive tests involved.
Q. How does this evaluation differ from an exam performed by my baby’s private pediatrician?
A. Although we will check your baby’s height, weight, and other vital signs, our evaluation is a more detailed look at your baby’s development levels than what he/she undergoes during a well-baby visit.
Q. Why is it necessary to do this evaluation when my baby is so young?
A. One of the major goals of our evaluation is to discover right away any developmental delays your baby may be experiencing so that we may begin interventional therapy to help your baby progress in his/her development. Waiting until your baby is older may cause these delays to become more involved and complicated. Research shows that early intervention results in improved developmental gains.
Q. What do I need to bring with us for my baby’s evaluation?
A. Please come about 15 minutes early to fill out the necessary paperwork. Bring your insurance card and any prescriptions, referral forms, pre-authorization forms, or co-payments that your individual policy requires for reimbursement or payment. During the evaluation, you will need to undress your baby, so please dress him/her in comfortable, easy-to-remove clothing. You may bring a bottle, drink, or snack for your baby.
Q. When will I receive the results of your evaluation?
A. Before you leave, we will have the results of your baby’s evaluation. We will discuss them with you and make any recommendations for referrals to therapists, physicians, other health care professionals, community resources, or Early Intervention Programs in your municipality. We will also make suggestions for ways you can enhance your child’s development at home. We will let you know when you should return with your baby for a follow-up evaluation.
Q. What are some at-home ways I can help my baby to progress in meeting his/her developmental milestones?
A. We may suggest more tummy time or give you ideas how you can make your child’s playtime more therapeutic, such as using certain toys or objects.
Q. How long will my baby’s neurodevelopmental follow-up services continue?
A. Every child is different, but most children undergo three follow-up evaluations before age 2: the first one at about 4 months corrected age, the second at about 12 months corrected age, and the third one at about 18 to 24 months of age. After age 2, your child will be followed by our developmental pediatrician approximately once a year. These evaluations may be very beneficial in planning pre-school and elementary school programs.