Why your baby may be in special care

There are a number of reasons why your baby may be in special care. Find out more about the most common reasons below.

The most common reasons why your baby may have been admitted into special care include:

Breathing support

Your baby may require breathing support due to meconium aspiration syndrome (MAS). This happens most often in babies born at or near full term. 

During delivery, sometimes a baby inhales a mixture of amniotic fluid and meconium (the baby’s first faeces or poo). This is sticky, thick and dark green. 

The baby’s windpipe is cleared as much as possible to clean up the meconium and the doctor will continue to try and clear the airway until there’s no meconium in the suctioned fluids.


Jaundice is a common condition in new-born babies. It is caused by a build-up of a normal chemical in the blood called bilirubin. 

It causes yellowing in the skin and the whites of the eyes, usually on the second to fifth day after birth. Jaundice is a very treatable condition and the level of bilirubin will be measured using a special hand-held device placed briefly on the skin or by a blood test. 

Depending on the levels, staff on the unit may check your baby’s fluid intake is correct and later on may use light therapy. This helps to break down the bilirubin, which is then passed out of your baby’s urine. If jaundice continues, then further tests will be necessary and other treatment may need to be considered.


If your baby has caught an infection, they may receive support to help with breathing, in addition to antibiotics to help fight the illness. 

Preterm and low weight babies have a reduced ability to fight infection and this is a common problem that needs treatment. 

Sometimes infections are caused by germs collecting on long lines, which may need to be removed, or on ventilation tubing in the windpipe. 

Find out more about infections

Premature and low birth weight babies have little ability to fight infection and this is a common problem that needs treatment.
Read more

The information on this page is more than two years old.