The complete resource for NICU families from admission to discharge and beyond

My baby has an IV in his/her HEAD!!! Isn't that dangerous?

Putting IVs into tiny baby veins is one of the most difficult procedures a neonatal nurse performs – and one of the most important. Your baby may need an intravenous line for medications, or for fluids and nutrition until s/he is eating entirely into his/her tummy. We use very small catheters, but the medications can be irritating to the vein and the IV may not last more than a day or two before a new one must be started. The best places for IVs are where there’s not much fat so that the vein can be easily seen through the skin. Typically, the first places are the hands and the feet but, over time, these veins are used up and new sites must be found. The scalp is a good place for IVs because there’s no fat to obscure the veins and the baby doesn’t move his/her head around much (which can loosen the catheter). Although parents are frequently disturbed by the idea – and the sight -- of a catheter in their baby’s scalp, it is no different than an IV in the hand or the foot. It is NOT dangerous to your baby! Occasionally, some of your baby’s hair may need to be clipped to access the vein. If so, ask your NICU nurse to save it for you as a memento of your baby’s first haircut! Nurses are typically sensitive to parents’ distaste of scalp IVs, and only use the scalp when no other suitable sites are available.

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