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  • Newborn Illness – How to Recognize

    Definition

    • How infections and other serious diseases can present in newborns

    Why Newborns Need to be Watched Closely

    • Newborns are at higher risk for infections. Infections may present at any time during the first month. Watch your baby carefully for signs of illness. This is especially crucial during the first 7 days of life.
    • Newborns who get a blood infection (sepsis) can get very sick quickly. The symptoms of serious illness in newborns can be subtle. The question below deals with sick newborns:
      • “Age under 1 month old (newborn) and starts to look or act abnormal in any way”. Look for this question in the “Call Your Doctor Now” section. It is listed in at least 10 topics.
      • Feeding is the one reliable measure of a newborn’s well being. Newborns should be eating machines. If your baby isn’t feeding well, call your baby’s doctor. Also, call if your baby has an abrupt change in his feeding pattern. (Exception: never a good feeder, but takes enough milk and nothing has changed).
      • If your newborn’s appearance or behavior changes and you think it’s abnormal, call now. Don’t wait to call your baby’s doctor for expert advice.

    When to Call Us for Newborn Illness – How to Recognize

    Call 911 Now (your child may need an ambulance) If:

    • Can’t wake up
    • Not moving or very weak
    • You think your child has a life-threatening emergency

    Call Us Now (night or day) If:

    • Any symptoms of illness such as coughing, diarrhea or vomiting. Vomiting bile (green color) is always bad.
    • Changes in feeding. Signs are having to wake up for feeds or can’t finish feeds.
    • Weak suck or can’t suck for very long
    • Sweating during feeds
    • Sleeping more than normal
    • Change in muscle tone (decreased or floppy)
    • Decreased movement
    • Change in color (such as pale, bluish or gray arms and legs)
    • Age under 12 weeks old with fever. (Caution: Do NOT give your baby any fever medicine before being seen.)
    • Low temperature below 96.8° F (36.0° C) rectally that does not go up with warming
    • New moaning or grunting noises with each breath
    • Change in cry, such as weak cry or strange cry
    • You think your child needs to be seen urgently

    Call Us Within 24 Hours (between 9 am and 4 pm) If:

    • You think your child needs to be seen, but not urgently (Has none of the urgent symptoms listed above)
    • You have other questions or concerns

    Parent Care at Home If:

    • Your baby is feeding, moving and sleeping normally

    Care Advice for Newborns Without Signs of Illness

    What You Should Know:

    • Based on this review, your baby doesn’t have any signs of illness right now.
    • During the early weeks of life, careful watching is always the best approach.

    Call Your Doctor If:

    • Your baby starts to look or act abnormal in any way

    Disclaimer: This information is not intended be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.

    Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.
    Copyright 1994-2013 Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.

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