Publication Date

Spring 2021

Degree Type

Doctoral Project

Degree Name

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)



First Advisor

Arlene Spilker


NICU, positioning, neurodevelopment, infant-driven feeding


Infants born prematurely (less than 37 weeks’ gestation) require specialized medical and nursing care to survive. Most of these babies require some form of respiratory, cardiovascular, thermal, and nutritional support as their bodies are not yet physiologically mature enough to handle these basic functions on their own. These supports include basic care such as diaper changes and feeding as well as life-saving interventions which include ventilation, intravenous nutrition, thermal regulation, and vasoactive medications. Depending on their gestational age or their diagnoses, they may require higher levels of support, such as nitric oxide gas delivered via a ventilator (Lai et al, 2018) or active hypothermia for a hypoxic ischemic event (Lemyre & Chau, 2018). This care is given in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU)and no matter the diagnoses or the treatments, these patients also require care to be given in such a way as to protect their developing brain and nervous system.


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