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Specialty ProgramsCook Children's

Specialty programs

Cook Children's is a level IV NICU, which means we offer the highest level of NICU care in Tarrant County.

We're able to provide care for the smallest and medically fragile newborn babies, as well as provide special treatments and surgeries, only available in a level IV NICU. We also offer specialized services that are found in only a handful of NICUs across the country.


Cook Children's NICU is committed to the health and safety of your baby and continues to raise the bar for quality patient care. That's why we're constantly introducing new technologies, like HeRO. As the first medical center in Texas to begin using "HeRO," a state-of-the-art heart rate observation technology that works with a baby's heart monitor, we led the way in improving care for NICU babies here at home, and across the state. Because it works with existing monitors, there are no extra cords or devices to attach to a baby's tiny body. All babies heart rates have natural fluctuations, but when a baby is beginning to get sick, the heart rate may level out. HeRO continually measures the heart rate variability and assigns it a rating. When an abnormal rating is detected, HeRO gives doctors and nurses advance warning that the baby is at risk for infection. With this information, they can begin early diagnosis and treatment for the illness sooner, preventing longer than necessary hospital stays.


Cook Children's is the only medical center in Tarrant County that provides extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) treatment for patients whose heart/lungs need to recover from anomaly or disease. The ECMO program at Cook Children's Medical Center is one of only two centers in the state of Texas to achieve the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization (ELSO) Center of Excellence Awards.

Therapeutic hypothermia treatment

Therapeutic hypothermia treatment is a process used to limit organ damage due to the lack of blood flow during the baby's birth. The baby is placed on a temperature-controlled blanket to cool his/her body temperature to 33 to 34 C (this is three to four degrees cooler than normal temperature) for 72 hours. The child's temperature will be monitored closely, and any problems arising from the cooling therapy will be treated. As part of routine care, the child will have an MRI scan of the brain when he/she is ready to go home. Once the child is released from the medical center, he/she will need to be seen by a pediatrician for long-term follow-up care. This is typical for all babies receiving this type of therapy.

Studies have shown that therapeutic hypothermia treatment in newborns less than 6 hours after birth may decrease the chances of death and long-term handicaps in survivors (handicaps measured at approximately 2 years of life). These studies also have shown therapeutic hypothermia is safe. This therapy is not able to prevent death or handicaps, and has possible risks.

Lactation services

At Cook Children's, we have full-time lactation specialists on staff to assist mothers with pumping and breastfeeding and to help mothers understand the benefits of mother's milk for their newborn. Research shows that this service helps improve babies' health and helps moms bond with their little ones. We have numerous resources available through lactation services for moms that are having difficulty with nursing/pumping. While other nurses are focusing on the baby's care, the lactation consultant can provide extra attention to mom.

Offering one of only three mother's milk banks in the nation, our NICU provides private pumping rooms, offers hospital-grade breast pumps for the nursing mother and supplies breast milk collection containers and labels for storage. Safety barcoding is used for labeling and scanning mom's milk to monitor the time and amount each baby is fed daily. We also use special milk warmers to bring milk to a temperature that is best for baby.


Kangaroo care

At Cook Children's, we recognize the importance of human touch in your baby's growth and development. We encourage regular contact with your baby through a method we call kangaroo care. Moms and dads can simply snuggle their baby against their bare chest to provide them warmth and comfort. This technique has been used for years and was first developed in poor countries that could not afford incubators. Soon the medical community realized that babies receiving kangaroo care were growing faster, stronger and healthier.


Today, medical research supports the many benefits that "skin-to-skin" contact provides. By holding your new baby skin-to-skin, moms and dads experience a natural closeness that helps you bond with your baby. Giving kangaroo care is also a good way to increase a mother's breast milk supply.

Donor breast milk program

Cook Children's participates in a donor breast milk program where mothers from throughout Texas and surrounding states, donate breast milk that is then pasteurized and delivered to our NICU from the Mother's Milk Bank of North Texas. Cook Children's may use tested donor milk with babies who are premature or have one or more of the following conditions:

Cook Children's is now using a special milk fortifier to provide added nutrients to our premature babies to help them grow stronger and healthier. Studies have shown that babies 33 weeks gestation and earlier who only receive human milk products have a 50 percent decreased risk in developing necrotizing enterocolitis. Specially trained milk technicians are on staff to mix mothers' milk with these needed nutrients.

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