High-Risk Developmental Follow-Up

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If your baby is born early or with complex medical conditions, being discharged from the NICU can bring a lot of emotions. You’re full of joy about how far your child has come, and you want to help them continue developing. You might be scared about what the long-term outcomes of a rough early start are. You want follow-up care from providers experienced at detecting developmental delays early. And who will know what to recommend so your child can thrive. 

At UVA Health Children’s, our Early Development Clinic experts provide this critical developmental follow-up care to babies at high risk of disability or delay. 

What Should I Expect at the Early Development Clinic (EDC)?

For the first 2 years of your child’s life, they’ll be seen at the EDC every 6 months.

Each visit lasts between 60-90 minutes. During that time, your child sees multiple therapists and providers.

Your child’s care team may include:

And most importantly, your child’s care team includes you, the caregiver. During your child’s appointment, we’ll work with you to develop a care plan together. Personalized care is designed to support your whole family.

During our visit, we’ll:

  • Listen to you share recent positives and concerns
  • Evaluate your child’s development, including milestones
  • Assess coping and attachment
  • Review your baby’s growth
  • Talk about nutrition
  • Develop a care plan
  • Help connect you with community resources

If needed, we can also help schedule follow-up appointments with other specialists.

Early Development Follow-Up FAQs

A lot of parents have questions about early development, and what it means to get follow-up care. Your providers want to answer your questions. If you forget one during your clinic visit, you can always use MyChart to ask digitally.

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions.

Is this the same as a NICU follow-up clinic?

No. All babies treated in UVA Health Children’s NICU are seen here. But we also see any babies at risk for early developmental delays or disabilities. You can also be seen here if your baby was a patient at a different NICU.

What makes a baby at high risk of developmental disability or delay?

Most of the things associated with a higher risk of developmental disability or delay are also the reasons why a baby may need to stay in the NICU. Prematurity, early illness, and birth trauma are common causes. Other causes include: 

  • An illness or infection during pregnancy
  • Alcohol, tobacco, or drug use during pregnancy
  • Genetic conditions 
  • Babies with siblings who have a developmental disability or delay
  • Being part of a multiple birth
  • Untreated jaundice
  • Exposure to a toxin, like lead

Can you help with my baby’s oxygen needs?

For babies with breathing needs, we have Complex Care. This clinic offers many of the same services but can also help with breathing needs.

Does this mean my baby will be diagnosed with a lifelong condition?

No. Early intervention can help many babies move past any delays and catch up with their peers. After 2 years, these children will go on to have routine follow-up care with their pediatrician.

For children who are diagnosed with conditions like cerebral palsy, autism, or ADHD, we can connect you with ongoing care.

Why only 2 years?

For premature babies, 2 years is about how long it takes them to catch up to babies born at term on their birthdate. But we’re not just going to abandon you at that point. Many babies will continue to be seen at our developmental pediatrics clinic. But by 2 years we’ll have a better idea of your child’s unique needs and can match them with the care that best fits their development.