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What is Neonatology?

Michael Pollick
By
Updated May 17, 2024
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Neonatology is a subspecialty of pediatrics which focuses primarily on the medical needs of newborn babies, or neonates. If a baby is born prematurely or presents with an obvious medical problem at birth, he or she may be brought directly to a neonatology center for intensive treatments. Neonatology teams generally limit their practice to babies born in the hospital but not released, or those transferred from other neonatal intensive care units (NICU). Once a mother and child are released from the hospital, most neonatalogy centers will refer any emergency care to a standard pediatric care unit.

A pediatrician who wants to become a neonatology specialist must first earn his or her standard medical license and then complete three more years of training. Most neonatology work is performed at larger hospitals with the resources to provide state-of-the-art NICU equipment and staffing. Most expectant mothers with normal pregnancies would never encounter a neonatologist under most conditions, although one might be consulted by the birthing team if a complication should arise.

Neonatology specialists study such things as the effects of a mother's lifestyle or outside environment on the development of newborns. There are also medical conditions unique to newborns, such as asphyxia from the umbilical cord or a blood condition which causes mothers to form antibodies against their own child's blood type. Babies born to cocaine or alcohol-addicted mothers may also be brought directly to a neonatology center for further observation and treatment.

Many pediatricians do not enter the field of neonatology because the working hours can be brutal and the salary range is not always commeasurate with the level of responsibility. A starting neonatology specialist may only earn US$75,000, with a veteran neonatologist topping out at US$250,000. Oftentimes a critical newborn patient may require 24-hour care, which can mean long shifts and irregular sleep schedules. Most neonatology work is hands-on, with only an occasional opportunity to pursue research work or attend seminars.

Neonatology can be an exciting field for those who are passionate about pediatrics and critical care in general. NICU staff members tend to be very compassionate and knowledgeable by nature, and the work environment can be much less stressful than emergency medicine or general pediatric practice.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Michael Pollick
By Michael Pollick , Writer
As a frequent contributor to WiseGeek, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a wide range of topics. His curiosity drives him to study subjects in-depth, resulting in informative and engaging articles. Prior to becoming a professional writer, Michael honed his skills as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.

Discussion Comments

By tmorgant21 — On Apr 27, 2012

In North Carolina,at UNC, what is the average salary for a Neonatologist?

By anon239790 — On Jan 10, 2012

You would have to go to college for four years, I'm pretty sure.

By anon180841 — On May 27, 2011

A starting Neontologist will not make $75,000; that is wrong. They are specialists, and a specialist will not make less than a primary care physicians or pediatrician.

New PCPs and Ped EMTs/DOs start off making 145K so why would a specialists who's already done a residency in Peds only make 75K? Wrong info, that's a little more than a resident physician makes.

By jenniefrann — On Mar 22, 2011

Being a neonatologist is a very serious thing to do. you have to think wisely and not regret your decision. I'm also thinking of becoming a neonatologist to, but when i did some research on it, it's really harder than you think. 14 years of schooling plus if you make a mistake you can get fired, go to prison, or get sued.

I'm still thinking on what i want to be. What do you guys think of these jobs: pediatrician, lawyer, pharmacist, firefighter, obgyn, pet doctor, and tell me about any other good jobs you guys know asap please, and remember Neonatology is a subspecialty of pediatricsm which focuses primarily on the medical needs of newborn babies, or neonates.

If a baby is born prematurely or presents with an obvious medical problem at birth, he or she may be brought directly to a neonatology center for intensive treatments. Neonatology teams generally limit their practice to babies born in the hospital but not released, or those transferred from other neonatal intensive care units.

By anon157591 — On Mar 03, 2011

I am 16 and I have always loved neonatology. Are the stories you hear about true when a woman "kangaroo cared" her baby back to life? I really want to be a neonatologist and these stories fascinate me. I have tried contacting many different people to get information about it but I never seem to get a reply. Anything anyone can tell me will help a lot!

By anon149534 — On Feb 04, 2011

It takes 14 years to finish neonatology schooling.

By anon125783 — On Nov 10, 2010

anon123177: Being a neonatologist is not just about the money or the years of study. The purpose is to save lives! Think about that.

By anon123177 — On Oct 31, 2010

I don't get why anyone would even want to be a neonatologist. It takes so long to become one, and once you are one, you barely get any money!

By anon119617 — On Oct 18, 2010

well i am 16 i also want to become a neonatologist but i have a good question to ask: why do you have retire at age of 63 when you have just probably finished the study of it?

By anon83172 — On May 09, 2010

I would like to know how many years of college i would take, and what kind of college. Like Medical or just some kind of degree? -Belle

By anon72021 — On Mar 21, 2010

who do they do? what do i have to do to become one? i am only 16, but i am thinking about it Someone please help.

By anon57974 — On Dec 29, 2009

Do neonatologists preform surgery?

By asmi — On Sep 30, 2008

hey, i wanted more information on neonatology like covering the following questions:

What are the disorders of neonatology?

What treatment should be taken?

What are the recent issues dealing with it?

please sir/madam i have 2 give a seminar on neonatology so i need information. It would be very nice of you if you could share some information with me. and you can suggest me any book 2 refer. thanking you.

By anon18444 — On Sep 23, 2008

Do neonatologists preform surgery on the preemies ?

By anon3273 — On Aug 20, 2007

what is the job growth of neonatology?

Michael Pollick

Michael Pollick

Writer

As a frequent contributor to WiseGeek, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a wide range...
Learn more
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