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Newborn Care: Common Health Concerns

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Your baby's health will be checked right after birth, and will continue to be checked during your stay at the hospital and at your baby's regular pediatrician visits.

Right after birth, your baby will have a blood test. This test looks for rare but serious disorders that can be treated if detected early. The best known of these disorders is phenylketonuria, or PKU. If you are discharged earlier than

twenty-four hours after birth, you may need to have them done by a lab or your healthcare provider. These tests are repeated soon after discharge at your pediatrician's office or lab.

A common newborn health concern is jaundice, which appears as a yellow tint in the baby's skin. It is caused by a substance called bilirubin. Jaundice usually appears on the second or third day after birth, peaks and then goes away, disappearing before the end of the second week.

If you notice your baby looks yellow or tan, call your healthcare provider and a blood test may be ordered. Mild jaundice is considered harmless and occurs in about half of all full-term babies.

But if the bilirubin levels are high, the child may be treated in an isolette with phototherapy - where the baby will be placed under special lights or laid on, or wrapped in, a small blanket which has fiber optic lights in it. This is often done in the hospital, but in some cases it can be done at home.

Every baby should have a healthcare visit soon after birth.

"Hi. Can I help you?"

Your healthcare provider will probably tell you to limit your newborn's exposure to other people's children and to anyone who is sick for the first few weeks.

"Sounds great. He has no heart murmurs. Next thing we're gonna do is check the baby's eyes."

Your baby's first healthcare visit is a great time to ask questions you're sure to have. It may help if you write them down ahead of time, so you don't forget to ask.

Immunizations are very important for your child's health. Some newborns receive their first immunization before going home from the hospital. If not, the immunization schedule will begin about two weeks after birth.

Other immunizations will be given at your baby's check up at two months, again at four months, then at six and fifteen months. Your child will also be immunized in the second year, and again somewhere between four and six years.

It is very important to get all of your child's immunizations on time and keep a record of them.

"I'd like to make an appointment for six weeks from now."

Be sure to keep appointments for your baby's regular check-ups to make sure your newborn is healthy and developing well.

You may want to ask your healthcare provider when to call for help. Some examples of times you should call are: a temperature above 100.4, or below 98 degrees Fahrenheit; if the baby's breathing changes; if the baby is vomiting; if the baby's skin has turned yellowish; if your baby refuses to eat through two or more feedings; if your baby has had watery diarrhea three to four times; if your baby does not urinate for eight hours; or if your baby is unusually sleepy and difficult to wake up.

It is also a good idea to keep a list of important numbers by the phone, like your healthcare provider, your baby's healthcare provider, poison control, and family and friends to contact in an emergency.

Your healthcare provider may ask you to take your baby's temperature. This can be done either in the rectum or under the armpit. Ask your baby's healthcare provider which method they recommend. Never attempt to take an infant's temperature orally.

If you notice anything unusual or are concerned about your baby's health, don't hesitate to call your baby's healthcare provider.

Animation Copyright © Milner-Fenwick