Graduation Year


Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Program or Major


Faculty Advisor

Alison M. Stoner


Infants born prematurely experience a variety of medical complications, which can impair their growth and development. These complications can result in permanent disabilities and medical conditions that could necessitate a lifetime of medical treatment. Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs) offer specialty units for infants born prematurely to receive excellent medical care to help them survive after being delivered at as soon as 23 weeks of gestation. A complementary form of care offered in some NICUs is developmental care, which focuses specifically on modifying the neonate’s physical environment to ensure proper growth and development. As developmental care is a relatively new practice, it is still being incorporated into standard NICU care. In this project, the offerings of top US NICUs were reviewed to determine their incorporation of developmental care. Additionally, NICU providers were interviewed to gather their opinions on the quality of care infants and their families receive in the NICU, developmental care and its impacts, and how NICU care can be improved in general. Results of these interviews indicated that while developmental care has proven to be very successful, it is not a standard of care in many NICUs and is not used as frequently as it should be. NICU providers also found that parents often are negatively impacted by a lack of support in the NICU, and should receive more specific care. Through attending conferences on developmental care, NICU providers can encourage the use of developmental care in the NICUs that they work in. Additionally, engaging parents in developmental care and keeping them informed of their infant’s treatment can help to offer them further support during their time in the NICU.