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Medical abbreviations and terms you may come across



A&B – Apnoea and bradycardia

ABG – Arterial Blood Gas

Blood collected from the artery to monitor blood gases including oxygen and carbon dioxide levels.

ACC - Agenesis of Corpus Callosum

A rare congenital abnormality in which there is a partial or complete absence of the corpus callosum.

Apnoea / Apnea

Cessation of breathing for approx 15-20 seconds. Apnoea is usually caused by immaturity in the area of the brain that controls the drive to breathe.


Arterial line used for monitoring vital signs and for blood collection.

ASD - Atrial Septal Defect

a hole in the wall between the two upper chambers of the heart.

ASD - Autism/Autistic Spectrum Disorder

A developmental disability typically characterised by obsessive behaviour, sensory processing issues, poor communication and poor social skills.


BF - Breastfed or Breastfeed/ing

BM / EBM - Breast Milk/ Expressed Breast Milk

BM - Bowel Movement

BP - Blood pressure

BPD - Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia

Damage to lungs that often occurs after long term (>28 days) ventilation.

BPM - beats per minute (heart rate)

Bradycardia – Low heart rate

In babies, whose normal heart rate is around 150 beats per minute, bradycardia occurs when the heart rate is lower than 100 bpm. Ofetn associated with or preceded by Apnoea.


CO2 – Carbon Dioxide

CLD – Chronic Lung Disease

is often used as a general term for long-term respiratory problems in premature babies. Bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) is a Chronic Lung Disease.

CP - Cerebral Palsy

A medical condition caused by a permanent brain injury that occurs before, during, or shortly after birth. The primary characteristic of cerebral palsy is a lack of muscle control and movement. People with Cerebral Palsy may have tremors, seizures, speech problems, visions and hearing deficits and intellectual impairments.

CPAP - Continuous Positive Airways Pressure

The pressure from the CPAP machine helps keeps the lungs open and reduces respiratory effort. . However, the machine does not provide breaths for the baby, so the baby breathes on his or her own.

CVI - Cortical Vision Impairment

A neurological vision impairment where the occipital lobe, the area of the brain that controls vision, is injured. When that part of the brain is damaged, visual images are not received. The actual physical condition of the eye can be normal, and yet the child cannot see or is visually impaired.

CVC / CVL – Central Venous catheter or line

Used to give fluids, TPN and medications. Also used for monitoring vital signs.


DNR - Do Not Resuscitate

A medical order not to resuscitate a terminally ill baby.


EBM - Expressed Breast Milk

ECHO – Echocardiogram

an ultrasound of the heart and surrounding structures.

ECMO – Extra Corporeal Membrane Oxygenation

supports both heart and lung functions when other treatments are inadequate

ECG / EKG - Electrocardiogram

records the electrical activity of the heart.

EEG - Electroencephalogram - measures brainwaves for seizure activity

ELBW - Extremely Low Birth Weight

less than 1000g.


FT - Full Term

37+ weeks gestational age


GA - Gestational Age

Age of baby calculated from the first day of the mother's last menstrual period

G-tube - Gastrointestinal tube

tube goes through the abdominal wall and directly into the intestines. Commonly used to administer feeds and medications.

GORD / GERD – Gastro Oesophageal/ Esophageal Reflux Disease

The stomach contents spill backwards up into the oesophagus causing burning, pain and sometimes reflux of stomach contents into the mouth.

GMH - Germinal Matrix Haemorrhage

the same as Grade I IVH


HELLP Syndrome

A serious condition occurring during pregnancy. Characterised by haemolysis, elevated liver enzyme levels and a low platelet count. Women with HELLP syndrome may have bleeding problems, liver problems and blood pressure problems that can hurt both the mother and the baby.

HMD - Hyaline Membrane Disease

also known as RDS

HMF - Human Milk Fortifier

Added to expressed breast milk to boost calories and aid in weight gain.


A collection of fluid in the scrotum. Often resolve spontaneously, but may require surgical intervention.


Inguinal Hernia

A condition where a loop of bowel slides into the groin. Typically manifests as a lump in the groin. More common in males than females. Usually treated surgically.

IUGR - Intrauterine Growth Retardation/Restriction

resulting in a small for gestational age baby (SGA ).

IVH - Intraventricular haemorrhage

Bleeding into the ventricles of the brain or the surrounding tissues.

IVT – Intravenous Therapy

Used to give intravenous fluids and medications


LBW - Low Birth Weight

under 2500g at birth regardless of gestational age.

LP – Lumbar puncture

Collection of spinal fluid using a needle.


NBM / NPO – Nil by Mouth or Nil per Oral

NEC - Necrotising Enterocolitis

inflammatory bowel disease causing injury to the bowel.

NG-tube – Naso Gastric Tube

tube goes through the nose and down to the stomach. May be used to deliver nutrition i.e. breast milk or to aspirate the stomach contents.

NICU - Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

NPO / NBM - Nil per Oral or Nil by Mouth


O2 - Oxygen

OT - Occupational Therapy/ist

OG-tube – Oro Gastric Tube

feeding tube that goes through mouth and down to the stomach. May be used to deliver nutrition i.e. breast milk or to aspirate stomach contents.


PDA - Patent Ductus Arteriosus

A blood vessel which typically closes a few days after birth, but which may stay open in premature babies. Can cause breathing difficulties and a high heart rate.

PDD - Pervasive Developmental Disorder

also known as Autism/Autistic Spectrum Disorder

PICU – Paediatric Intensive Care Unit

PIE - Pulmonary Interstitial Emphysema

A condition where air is trapped between the tiny air sacs in the lungs, encircling the smallest blood vessels and bronchi.

PIH - Pregnancy Induced Hypertension

Now usually called Pre-eclampsia

Placenta Previa

Placenta Previa (sometimes spelt Praevia) occurs when the placenta implants low in the uterus and covers, either partially or fully the os (or opening to the cervix)

Placental Abruption / Placentae Abruptio

Placentae Abruptio occurs when the placenta separates from the wall of the uterus before the baby has been born


A condition where air is trapped inside the chest between the chest wall and the lung, causing the lung to collapse. Typically treated with an UWSD. Commonly called a collapsed lung.

PNS / TPN – Parenteral Nutrition Solution / Total Parenteral Nutrition

Nutrition given by vein

PPROM - Preterm Premature Rupture of Membranes

When the pregnancy is less 37 weeks along AND the membranes rupture prior to the onset of labour


Pre-Eclampsia (sometimes known as PIH or Pregnancy Induced Hypertension, or as toxaemia) is a form of high blood pressure during pregnancy

PROM - Premature Rupture of membranes or Pre Labour Rupture of Membranes

when the membranes rupture prior to the onset of labour

PT - Physio Therapy/ist

PTL – Pre Term Labor

Preterm Labour is labour that occurs before 37 weeks gestation and can result in progressive dilatation of the cervix

PVL - Periventricular Leukomalacia

Damage and softening of the white matter, the inner part of the brain that transmits information between the nerve cells and the spinal cord as well as from one part of the brain to another.


RAD - Reactive Airway Disease

A general term that does not indicate a specific diagnosis. It may be used to describe a history of coughing, wheezing or shortness of breath due to undetermined cause. These signs and symptoms may or may not be caused by asthma

RDS - Respiratory Distress Syndrome

Respiratory difficulty due to immaturity of lung tissues and deficiency of surfactant in the air spaces.

ROP - Retinopathy of Prematurity

A condition in which the blood vessels in the retina develop abnormally. ROP is most common in babies born more than 12 weeks early.May cause visual impairment or blindness.

RSV - Respiratory Syncytial Virus

a virus causing infections of the upper and lower respiratory tract. A common cause of bronchiolitis.


SCBU / SCU – Special Care (Baby) Unit

SGA - Small for Gestational Age

SID - Sensory Integration Disorder

A neurological disorder which causes difficulties in processing information regarding sight, sound, movement, taste, smell, touch and the position of the individual’s body.

SIDS - Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

ST - Speech Therapy/ist


TPN / PNS – Total Parenteral Nutrition / Parenteral Nutrition Solution

Nutrition given by vein

TPR – Temperature, pulse & respirations

Tube Feeding

Feeds given via a tube. Can be administered via various methods including nasogastric, nasal-jejeunostomy, gastrostomy and jejeunostomy.

TTTS - Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome

sometimes occurs in identical twins, can result in the death of one twin


UAC - Umbilical Arterial Catheter

tube inserted through artery in baby's navel, used to draw blood samples, provide nutrition, infuse blood and medications and monitor blood pressure (also known as UAL).

UAL - Umbilical Arterieal Line see UAC

UVC - Umbilical Venous Catheter

tube inserted through vein in baby's navel to give fluid and nutrients and to monitor blood pressure

UWSD – Underwater sealed drain

A drain used to remove trapped air from between the lung and the chest wall, thereby allowing the lung to reinflate.


VLBW - Very Low Birth Weight

less than 1500g

VSD - Ventricular Septal Defect

a hole in the wall between the two lower chambers of the heart.

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