Pioneering Practices

Pioneering Practices

Nicole DePalma, PT, helps a young patient reach her potential in the Center for Child Development

Each year, approximately 1,000 premature or seriously ill babies are admitted to the Brigham’s Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU), one of the largest in New England. For these babies, the therapies to help them heal are more successful than ever. Yet while medical outcomes have improved, developmental outcomes have not—and this lag can have a lifelong impact, affecting a child’s growth, learning, and behavior.

To continue to support high risk babies and their families after discharge, the Brigham recently opened its Center for Child Development. Bringing pioneering neonatology and child development experts together, the center uses a teambased approach to provide outpatient care for children at risk for developmental delay or ongoing medical problems.


“Innovation through research is central to our mission. It will ultimately be the key to helping every child reach his or her potential.”—Jennifer Benjamin, MD


“If we can notice a deviation in a child’s development and intervene early, we can help that child reach his or her potential to thrive,” says Jennifer Benjamin, MD, a neonatologist in the Department of Pediatric Newborn Medicine.

Building on evidence-based research, the NICU has also implemented new caregiving practices—including kangaroo care cuddling and a language-rich environment that helps soothe, nurture maternal attachment, and gently encourage brain growth and development. The center aims to follow each NICU baby up to kindergarten age and continue to support each child and family throughout early childhood.

This article was originally featured in the 2018 Honor Roll, which celebrates donors to Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital. Check out more profiles of patients, clinicians, and researchers that illustrate the power of transformative philanthropy at the Brigham.

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