The blessing of motherhood comes with a lot of responsibilities as the mom has to be extra careful in the initial days of motherhood. She is occupied for every single second. She remains in a constant state of fear and anxiety as the newborn is too delicate for this world. The newborn is tiny, weak and helpless. So, the mom is expected to be overwhelmed with worries. After all, a baby hardly weighs 6-10 pounds.
The newborn’s muscles and bones are not fully developed. The immune system is hardly developed enough to protect the body from external harmful elements. That’s why no mother ignores any illness even when it is a minor one. We are going to make new moms aware of the 13 most common newborn health problems.
This condition is the swelling or distention of the abdomen. Protruding abdomen is normal in babies. However, if you find it hard and swollen; book an appointment with the nearest pediatrician. In 90% of the cases, parents need not to worry as abdominal distention is due to constipation or gas. Severe abdominal distention can be life-threatening.
Babies often swallow excess air while feeding or crying which can cause abdominal distention. This condition in babies might be related to some other medical problems. Abdominal distention should not be ignored as it might also involve some other intestinal problems including obstruction, distention or some infections. Some cases have been reported in which other organs such as the heart, liver, spleen and kidneys might also be involved.
Physical injuries also known as birth trauma are occasional during difficult labor. Sometimes, these injuries occur due to the size of the baby. Baby’s position during delivery can also cause birth injuries. Apart from the size of the baby, prematurity (delivery before 37 weeks when baby’s body is too fragile and more prone to injuries), cephalopelvic disproportion (inadequate size of the pelvis), prolonged labor or abnormal position and presentation can make delivery difficult. Following are the common birth injuries:
- Caput succedaneum
- Bruising or forceps marks
- Subconjunctival hemorrhage (You can see bright red bands in one or both eyes of the baby. This happens due to the broken small blood vessels in the white part of the eye. This is not a serious damage. These red bands will disappear in 7 to 10 days.)
- Facial paralysis
- Brachial palsy
Bluish Baby Skin
Some babies are born with this condition and sometimes this condition is developed early in life. It is normal and even harmless if does not persist. Blue spots on the skin are because of underlying blood having a blue cast. Blood under baby’s skin becomes bluish when lungs are getting insufficient oxygen. It should be oxygen rich pink color blood.
If skin appears bluish everywhere (especially inspect tongue, lips, scrotum or vagina and other areas having a lot of blood flow), there might be something wrong with lungs or heart. The area around mouth, hands or feet temporarily turning blue is pretty common and normal. Let a pediatrician see these blue color spots on the baby’s skin that are not temporary. Take it seriously when bluish skin is not temporary and the baby is also having breathing problems.
The immature immune system of baby is not strong enough to protect the body from some infections. Cough is one of these infections. If persistent, cough can cause pain in throat, aches and shivers. The cough can be croup cough, dry cough, wet cough or pertussis (a whooping cough).
Croup cough is woofing, harsh and dry cough which occurs when windpipe or upper trachea is swollen. The woofing sound is because of swelling just below the vocal cord. Dry cough is broken cough caused due to cold or influenza. Dry cough affects nose and throat. It often gets worse when the temperature is lightly increased or the baby retires to the bed.
In wet cough, phlegm is accumulated in the lower respiratory system. This system includes lungs and windpipe. In the case of Pertussis (a whooping cough), you might think that it is normal. However, if the frequent bouts of coughing are making the baby uncomfortable especially at night, it is not a normal cough. The baby also takes deep breaths making a whooping sound.
Yellowing of the eyes and skin is a symptom of newborn jaundice. This condition is pretty common. During the normal breakdown of RBCs (Red Blood Cells), a yellow pigment called bilirubin is produced which is responsible for newborn Jaundice. It is the liver’s job to process bilirubin which eventually passes through the intestinal tract. However, the liver of a newborn is not fully developed and it cannot remove bilirubin.
This condition goes away when the liver becomes mature enough to process bilirubin. It takes only 2 to 3 weeks for jaundice to disappear. In case symptoms persist, never ignore and let a pediatrician examine your baby. High level of bilirubin increases the risk of cerebral palsy, deafness and even brain damage.
Newborn Respiratory Distress Syndrome (NRDS) is the actual term used for this condition. Lungs are not fully developed and cannot provide a sufficient amount of oxygen. This makes it difficult for babies, especially premature babies to breathe. Lungs need surfactant (a substance made up fats and proteins) to stay inflated. The baby’s body begins to produce this substance between 24th to 28th week of pregnancy. In normal developments, the baby’s body is producing enough of this substance in the 34th week of the pregnancy.
In maturely developed babies this happens when
- Baby is underweight.
- Mother has diabetes.
- Baby’s lungs are underdeveloped.
50% of the babies born somewhere between 28th to 32nd week of the pregnancy suffer from this condition. Rapid and shallow breathing, blue-colored fingers, toes and lips, flaring nostrils and breathing with grunting sound are the symptoms of newborn respiratory distress syndrome. See a doctor if you notice these symptoms. This condition can lead to other health problems later in life. These health complications include air leaks (air leaks out from lungs and gets trapped in the chest cavity), internal bleeding (inside brain and lungs), lung scarring and developmental disabilities.
Vomiting is pretty normal in infants. They often spit up milk sometimes after they are fed. However, frequent vomiting should not be ignored. Make sure that your baby is not suffering from a condition called lactose intolerance. Also, make sure that the baby is not allergic to breast milk. Also, burp the baby in order to prevent the baby from throwing up the meal. Take vomiting seriously when the baby is not gaining adequate weight. Medical intervention becomes necessary in this situation. Also, notice the color of the vomit. If it is green, see a doctor. Digestive issues can also cause vomiting.
Just like vomiting, fever is also normal. Body temperature between 97 and 100.3 degrees Fahrenheit is normal. The baby is suffering from fever if the temperature is higher than 100.3 degrees Fahrenheit. In most of the cases, fever is due to cold or some other viral infections. Ear infection, pneumonia and urinary tract infection are the infections causing fever. Meningitis and blood bacterial infection are some serious infections causing fever in infants. Dressing too warmly, spending too much time in the sun and sometimes reactions to some vaccinations also cause fever.
Symptoms of fever include poor eating, poor sleeping, baby being lethargic, showing no interest in play, and seizures or convulsions. Immediate medical care is necessary if the baby suffering from fever is under 2 months. You must let a child specialist see your baby if the baby is lethargic, having a problem in eating or breathing, dry mouth, crying with tears or other signs of dehydration or the baby is having a seizure.
If a baby younger than 5 months keeps on crying for more three hours, especially in the evening or late afternoon, it could be colic. Cries are pitched high and also louder than the normal. Colicky babies are perfectly healthy and do not show any other sign of discomfort. The formula you are using can also cause colic. So, make sure that the baby is not allergic to the formula. See a doctor if the problem is not resolved.
In the case of babies, the largest organ of the body is very sensitive. Fungus, cold, heat, drooling, bacteria, allergies and wearing wet nappy for a long time are the factors causing skin issues. The majority of skin conditions do not last long. Following are the common baby skin conditions:
This condition is also known as miliaria or prickly heat. Sweat glands in a newborn are not fully developed. Sweat glands are easily blocked in hot and humid climate. Heat rashes are red to clear small pin-pointed bumps usually over buttocks and back.
35% of the babies develop nappy rashes also known as diaper dermatitis during the first year of the life. These are red and scaly rashes over the skin covered by diapers. Prolonged use of diapers and secondary infections due to bacteria or yeast/ fungus cause nappy rashes.
Also known as seborrhoeic dermatitis, this condition first time occurs in the first few weeks. It can recur for up to 4-6 months. Pink to red scaly patches on the scalp and sometimes on neck, groin and armpits are symptoms of cradle cap. This occurs due to yeast/bacterial infection and abnormal oil production in hair follicles and oil glands.
This skin condition is also known as atopic dermatitis. It is pretty common in babies, children and adults. This condition usually improves with time. Rough and dry skin, red and itchy patches which usually occur on the cheek and joints of legs and arms are symptoms of this condition. Though the actual cause is unknown, this skin problem usually occurs due to an immune reaction. Vaccinations, house dust mites, high temperatures and viral infections are some of the environmental factors that can trigger or worsen atopic eczema. Apart from this, allergens such as creams, detergents and soaps can also trigger this condition.
Cold And Flu
Cold and flu infections are common among babies and infants. These infections are also harmless and usually heal on their own without causing much havoc. However, in some cases, even a simple cold can lead to pneumonia which is a serious medical condition. Therefore, do not ignore and visit a child specialist.
Ear infection in infants is also very common. If the baby pulling, grabbing or tugging at ears, vomiting or suffering from diarrhea, not eating enough, whitish or yellow fluid is draining from the ear, unpleasant smell coming from the ear or the baby cannot sleep due to pain in the ear; these are the symptoms of infection in the ear. This infection is caused by virus or bacteria. Ear becomes infected due to fluid build up behind the eardrum. The fluid drains through Eustachian tube connecting the middle ear to the throat and back of the nose. This tube is sometimes blocked due to sinus infections, colds or allergies. The fluid trapped in the middle ear is perfect breeding ground for germs.
It is an infection in the mouth due to fungus. This condition can also affect the nipples of the mother while breast-feeding. Though oral thrush is not a serious condition, it is very uncomfortable and makes it difficult to eat. When the immune system is not strong enough, fungus leads to lesions and sores on the tongue and in the mouth. White patches inside the cheeks, on the roof of the mouth and on the tongue, red tissues under white lesions that bleed, redness around the patches which are painful and patches that cannot be wiped away are the symptoms of oral thrush. Treatment is the only solution.
Although many of these conditions are very common and do not last long, still it does not mean that these should not be taken seriously. Some of these conditions can have lasting effects and hurt the baby during the entire life. So, look for the nearest child specialist, get the baby diagnosed and treated.
Kuldeep Singh is a poet, lyricist, performer, a public speaker and a professional content writer from Chandigarh, the city Beautiful. Apart from writing, he also has a keen interest in programming, especially in Java. He uses Twitter & Facebook on very rare occasions.