It is not uncommon for a newborn baby to develop ailments that can affect them. This is because baby’s immune system is not fully developed yet. For new parents it might be tough to identify and cope with common minor ailments. The good news is that as baby gets older, you will grow a second nature for these kinds of things. However, until then it may be a good idea to gather some background information on the different ailments that can affect baby.
Diarrhea and vomiting
A newborn baby’s digestive system is very sensitive and vulnerable, making mild cases of vomiting and diarrhea rather common. Babies who are breastfed are less prone to gastro-intestinal infections because breast milk contains protective antibodies. However, all babies are likely to suffer from gastro-intestinal infections from time to time.
The biggest concern for babies suffering from vomiting or diarrhea is dehydration, as this causes a loss of fluids. If baby is vomiting for several hours, passing frequent, watery stools, or showing symptoms of dehydration (dry mouth, lethargy, irritability, refusal to feed, sunken eyes) it may be a cause for concern and a doctor should be contacted.
Bottlefed babies are more prone to constipation because breast milk stimulates the digestive system. A bottlefed baby may become constipated due to a lack of fluids. If you notice baby has not passed a stool for a day or two, and then passes a hard one, increase his or her fluid intake by giving water between feeds or, alternatively, try giving diluted fruit juice to baby twice a day. This is supposed to help loosen the stools. However, if baby still suffers from constipation seek professional medical advice.
It is common for babies to suffer from colds, which could lead to ear infections. If baby continues to cry for no reason, has a high temperature and diarrhea, or there is a discharge from the ear, contact a medical professional, who will be able to confirm the diagnoses and treat the infection.
When the body is fighting infection, it elevates its core temperature to increase the activities of its defence. If baby is showing symptoms of a fever, it is a sign that his or her body is fighting infection. If this is the case, it is important to take down baby’s temperature and then retake it 20 minutes or so afterwards, noting and comparing the readings in each instance. If baby’s temperature has risen by a degree or more, shows symptoms of being distressed or shows other signs of illness, contact your doctor immediately. If baby’s temperature is slightly elevated, yet shows no signs of other illness, then it is more than likely a minor infection that may pass in a day or two. However, it will not hurt to contact your doctor.
Colic is a somewhat mysterious ailment that, according to experts, affects around 20% of babies. It is unknown why some babies are more prone to colic, however, it is not a disease and will not cause any long term harm to baby. Generally speaking, colic refers to an attack of uncontrollable and persistent crying, and appears to be abdominal pain in babies. Although there is not much one can do about it, it may be a good idea to contact your doctor to rule out an underlying, more serious cause. Colic usually appears within a few weeks of birth and may last until baby is around three or four months old.
It is not uncommon for a baby to suffer from jaundice, which is a result of an excessive amount of bilirubin in the blood. The human body has natural amounts of bilirubin in the blood however newborns generally may have higher levels of this because their immune systems may take longer to process extra red blood cells. Jaundice will cause a yellowish discoloration of the skin and whites of the eyes and may become apparent within a day or two after birth. Generally speaking, jaundice clears up by itself within several days, when the surplus red blood cells have died off and baby’s liver has developed enough to take care of the rest. However, if bilirubin levels are extremely high, the doctor may recommend treating it with phototherapy.
This is a condition caused by a buildup of oil and the shedding of skin cells and may result in heavy flaking, redness and greasy scales on the scalp. This condition is not harmful and is rather common amongst new born babies. It can be treated with more frequent shampooing (using a mild baby shampoo) and soft brushing to remove the scales.
In the end it is at the parent’s discretion to determine if baby’s condition warrants a call to the doctor, and while some conditions are mild it is best to approach any unrecognised symptom with caution.