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Over the last century, neonatal care has seen significant changes that can help provide better care for newborns and infants. From creating the first NICU unit within a hospital to dedicating more resources to understanding newborn health, neonatal care has seen an overall significant evolution. Since the creation of the first NICU in 1922, neonatal care has continued to grow and advance, providing the best care possible. Learn more about the overall evolution of neonatal care and the remarkable progress that has been made in the last 100 years. 


While the first NICU was already established by the 1950s, the focus on neonatal care would prove to be crucial. Obstetrician Pierre-Constant Budin helped lead the way with a better understanding of neonatal care. In addition to teaching new mothers about how to care for newborns, Budin also examined how to provide the nutrients they need to thrive. Under Budin’s guidance, infant mortality decreased by 28% in the hospital he worked in, proving that his findings were vital in improving neonatal care. 


Following the success of Budin’s approach to neonatal care, more focus was shifted towards improving access to infant treatments. More NICUs were created in hospitals around the world, setting up the wards that are seen in hospitals today. Medical professionals focused not only on what treatments can help newborns with health complications but also provided crucial insight into how germs are spread to newborns. Over time, hospitals adjusted their NICU and sanitizing practices, helping to prevent newborns from serious illnesses. 


Since the 1970s, the capabilities of the NICU units across hospitals worldwide have continued to evolve. One of the most impactful adjustments that were made after the 1970s was having parents more involved in their newborn’s care. While hospitals initially used machines for any complications, they found that the bond with parents can actually help a newborn to recover better. This finding would end up securing the approach that NICU units take in today’s world. 


While there are still countless lessons to be learned about neonatal care, there has been incredible progress since the 1950s.