[ nee-oh-neyt-l ]


  1. of or relating to newborn children.


/ ˌniːəʊˈneɪtəl /


  1. of or relating to newborn children, esp in the first week of life and up to four weeks old

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Derived Forms

  • ˌneoˈnatally, adverb

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Other Words From

  • neo·natal·ly adverb
  • postne·o·natal adjective

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Word History and Origins

Origin of neonatal1

First recorded in 1900–05; neo- + natal

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Example Sentences

In late 2018, the six-time Olympic gold medalist was sitting in the neonatal intensive-care unit of a hospital outside Detroit, watching her weeks-old daughter fight for her life.

From Time

Her cousin, who was working a shift that night as a neonatal intensive care nurse, walked in.

The family’s initial bonding time was short-lived, as both babies were whisked away to the neonatal intensive care unit.

Lovelace did not respond to many of my questions but defended its track record of neonatal intensive care.

I sought New Mexico Health Department hospital inspection reports and regulators’ emails about neonatal hospital care.

“This morning we have had seven power cuts,” said Dr. Ahma al Moudi in the neonatal intensive care unit.

The Neonatal clinic for outpatients is relatively quiet compared to the maternity ward.

The most recent Weill Cornell study found the risk of neonatal mortality to be about 1.2 per 1,000 births.

Premature infants in neonatal intensive care are at high risk for infection.

Karen Santorum was a neonatal intensive care nurse for nine years, caring for the most fragile newborns.


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More About Neonatal

What does neonatal mean?

Neonatal is an adjective used to describe things related to newborn babies and their care.

Neonatal is a technical term used in the context of medicine and healthcare. You’re most likely to see it used in terms like neonatal unit, neonatal care, and neonatal nurse, and in the names of certain medical conditions that affect newborns. Its noun form, neonate, is another word for a newborn.

Example: My sister is a neonatal nurse who specializes in caring for newborns with certain health problems.

Where does neonatal come from?

The first records of neonatal come from around 1900. It’s formed from the prefix neo-, meaning “new,” and natal, which means “relating to birth.”

So how newly born does a newborn have to be to be involved with things labeled neonatal? Definitions vary, but the term typically refers to the first 28 days (four weeks) of life, and is often especially used to refer to the first week. The neonatal period is a very vulnerable and rapidly changing time in a baby’s life, when they will undergo daily changes. Neonatal nurses and other practitioners specialize in the care of infants during this important period for growth and development.

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms related to neonatal?

  • neonatally (adverb)
  • postneonatal (adjective)

What are some synonyms for neonatal?

  • newborn (when used as an adjective)

What are some words that share a root or word element with neonatal



What are some words that often get used in discussing neonatal?


How is neonatal used in real life?

Neonatal is a technical term that’s typically used by doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals. In everyday conversation, most people just use the term newborn.



Try using neonatal!

Is neonatal used correctly in the following sentence? 

Children who are more than two years old are treated in the neonatal ward.

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