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The Kireker Center’s neurodevelopmental follow-up team provides ongoing evaluations, assessments and referrals for children who need extra help to meet their developmental milestones. Our neurodevelopmental follow-up services are available to children born at The Valley Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), as well as babies born at other NICUs.
Our services often begin while your baby is still hospitalized in our 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.
While not all NICU graduates require neurodevelopmental follow-up services, those who may benefit include:
- Babies born before 34 weeks’ gestation
- Babies born with or experiencing neurological abnormalities, such as low muscle tone, seizures or bleeding in the brain
- Babies with congenital defects, such as club foot or heart problems
- Babies with genetic disorders, including Down syndrome and degenerative neuromuscular diseases
- Babies who have experienced infections or significant respiratory distress after birth
One of the goals of our evaluation is to discover right away any developmental delays your baby may be experiencing so we can begin interventional therapy to help your baby progress in their development. Research shows that early intervention results in improved developmental gains.
If your baby spent time in Valley's 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 Valley’s 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 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 exam 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. There are no injections, blood tests or other invasive tests involved. 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 recommend ways to continue your child’s progress at home, such as increasing tummy time, encouraging reaching skills, and practicing visual tracking skills.
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.
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.
Our follow-up services include:
- Referrals to physical, occupational and/or speech therapists and/or an audiologist
- Referrals to our neurodevelopmental pediatrician, physiatrist, neurologist or other physicians
- 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 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 healthcare 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.