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Neuro-Intensive Care Nursery (NICN)

The Neuro-Intensive Care Nursery (NICN) provides highly specialized, around-the-clock care for infants born with a condition affecting any part of the nervous system, as well as newborns at risk for these problems. Critically ill infants throughout Northern California are brought to our hospitals for diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation (therapeutic programs to improve function and well-being).

The services we provide include neurosurgery for newborns, using minimally invasive methods when possible; brain cooling, which may prevent lasting brain damage for babies who have been deprived of oxygen; and continuous brain monitoring via electroencephalogram (EEG), used to diagnose and treat seizures. Because neurological development is so important in the first months of life, our goal is to identify and address problems as early as possible. 

Our team is made up of many types of experts, including neonatologists, pediatric neurologists, pediatric neurosurgeons, pediatric neuroradiologists and specially trained bedside nurses. By bringing together multiple top specialists to collaborate on your baby's care, we can achieve the best possible outcome.

After discharge, we continue to monitor each patient's neurological development and provide long-term support through our Neonatal Neurology Follow-Up Clinic.

In addition to delivering the highest level of care for urgent conditions, we conduct research to improve the lives of children at risk for long-term disabilities. In fact, UCSF investigators discovered many of the therapies that are now standard care for critically ill infants. Interested families may have the option to enroll in a clinical trial to improve understanding of the newborn brain or to evaluate potential new treatments.

Family-Centered Care

Having a child in intensive care is highly stressful for families. We want parents to feel as involved, informed and comfortable as possible, and we encourage you to visit, ask questions and play an active role in your baby's care. You'll also find a variety of hospital support services and amenities available to your family during your baby's stay.

Our locations (2)

    Awards & recognition

    • Ranked among the nation's best in 10 specialties

    • Top 10 in the nation for neonatology

    • One of the nation's best in neurology & neurosurgery

    • in NIH funding among U.S. neurology programs

    Special programs

    Fetal Neurology Center of Excellence

    Our specialists, leaders in the new field of fetal neurology, can provide prenatal diagnoses of birth defects that may affect the baby's nervous system.

    Recommended reading


    Feeding Difficulties

    Premature babies can experience feeding difficulties. But they are often temporary. Learn more about the causes and specialized care we deliver.


    Intensive Care Nursery Glossary

    Our glossary explains the terms we use in the intensive care nursery in language that's easy to understand. Learn about chest tubes, respirators and more.


    Intensive Care Nursery Parents' Guide

    Is your baby in the intensive care nursery? Our guide helps you take an active role in your child's care, know what to expect and access support services.


    Intensive Care Nursery Team

    When your baby stays in the intensive care nursery, they receive care from a team that includes doctors, nurses and many other experts. Learn more.

    Patient Transport: A Parent's Guide

    Our transport service provides high-level care on the way to our hospitals. Find out what to expect and how you can help ensure a smooth transport.

    Our research initiatives

    • Neonatal Seizure Registry

      The Neonatal Seizure Registry (NSR) is an alliance of US centers that have worked together since 2012 to study early onset seizures.

    • ucsf-division-of-neonatology-research-2x

      UCSF Division of Neonatology Research

    • ucsf-newborn-brain-research-institute-2x

      UCSF Newborn Brain Research Institute

      The Newborn Brain Research Institute promotes brain development and recovery by leveraging clinical excellence, a cutting-edge data hub and innovative basic and clinical research.

    Support services

    Child Life Services

    Activity rooms, pet therapy and more to help kids feel at home.


    Gentle Hands Program

    We help parents of medically fragile infants bond with their babies via special techniques for soothing, holding and bathing their child. Learn more.

    Family Amenities

    Family-friendly amenities help you relax and take care of yourself while staying close to your child. We offer lounges, kitchens, showers, breastfeeding rooms and more.


    Social Services

    Social workers ease the effect of illness, injury and hospitalization on your family with counseling and assistance to help you navigate the challenges.


    Parent Support Program

    Weekly activities, including knitting, scrapbooking, chair massage and more, help family caregivers get a much-needed break. Find out more.


    Spiritual Care

    Chaplains help UCSF patients, families and staff cope with the spiritual and emotional challenges of childhood illness. Learn more.


    Interpreter Services & Communication Assistance

    Interpreter services in many languages and TDDs are available for families that need help communicating with care teams. Here's how to access them.


    Music Therapy Program

    Board-certified music therapists help kids cope with illness and the feelings that come with it. Find out about group activities and bedside therapy.

    Family Resource Center

    We help families cope with the challenges of childhood illness and hospitalization in a relaxing environment where parents can get a much-needed break.


    Patient Relations

    Patient relations reps and nursing supervisors are here to answer questions and address concerns. Learn about your rights, how to reach us and more.


    International Services

    If you're coming to UCSF from outside the U.S., we coordinate your child's appointments and provide other helpful services. Here's how to get started.

    Stress-free visits

    Accommodations. Admissions. Procedure prep. Get the info you need for smoother hospital stays.

    Prepare for your child's stay