Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Levels of Care

When choosing the best hospital to have a baby, many parents don’t consider the level of neonatal care offered. While no parent wants to think about their newborn in a NICU, knowing that the hospital offers a high level of care should your baby need it can provide great peace of mind.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has defined four distinct levels of neonatal care, with each designation offering a higher level of care than the previous one. Medical City hospital NICUs provide advanced neonatal services for infants requiring the care of a Level III or Level IV NICU — the highest levels of neonatal care available.

Level I NICU

Level I facilities are classified as well newborn nurseries and can provide a basic level of neonatal care to low risk infants. They are equipped to care for premature babies born between 35 to 37 weeks who are otherwise healthy. Level I facilities can also stabilize ill infants or those born at less than 35 weeks until they can be transferred to a higher level facility.


Level II (specialty-level) facilities care for stable or moderately ill newborns who:

  • Are born prematurely at 32 weeks or after
  • Weigh at least 3.3 pounds
  • Have problems that are expected to resolve rapidly and are not expected to need subspecialty-level services on an urgent basis

Medical City Hospitals with Level II NICU


Level III neonatal intensive care units provide care for infants who:

  • Are born before 32 weeks – or –
  • Weigh less than 3.3 pounds – or –
  • Have medical or surgical conditions

Subspecialty care at a Level III facility includes expertise in neonatology and maternal-fetal medicine, as well as continuously available personnel and equipment to provide life support for as long as necessary.

Medical City Hospitals with Level III NICU


Level IV neonatal intensive care units offer the highest level of care with all the capabilities of a Level III NICU plus additional capabilities and considerable experience in caring for the most complex and critically ill newborn infants and premature babies. Additionally, Level IV NICUs have pediatric medical and surgical specialty consultants available around the clock, 365 days a year.

Medical City Dallas is a Level IV NICU and offers high-risk maternity care through its Maternal Fetal Institute.

Read why one new millennial mom is telling everyone to choose their hospital before their OB in our We Deliver Dreams blog.

Frequently Asked Questions About the NICU

Neonatal Care: What to Expect in the NICU

Understanding the NICU Monitor

Bonding With Your NICU Baby

Flat Head Helmets for Premature Babies

Breastfeeding in the NICU