When to take your new­born to the doc­tor

Rather be safe than sorry

Your Baby & Toddler - - Contents - BY CATH JENKIN

As you ad­just to your new role as par­ent to your tiny hu­man, it’s ab­so­lutely nor­mal to be on hy­per-alert, with ev­ery lit­tle twinge leav­ing you con­cerned for your baby’s health.


But when you’re still learn­ing what’s nor­mal and what there is to be truly con­cerned about, it can get a lit­tle con­fus­ing. We’re go­ing to make it eas­ier for you; with this top five list of rea­sons to take your new­born to the doc­tor or emer­gency room.

1 FEVER For ba­bies younger than three months, fevers need ur­gent at­ten­tion. Any tem­per­a­ture that’s above or below the nor­mal read­ing for a new­born child should get im­me­di­ate med­i­cal at­ten­tion. While a nor­mal tem­per­a­ture for hu­mans fluc­tu­ates be­tween 36 and 37 de­grees, any tem­per­a­ture above 37.5 de­grees is con­sid­ered a fever. For new­born ba­bies and in­fants un­der three months of age, this is of­ten in­dica­tive of a bac­te­rial rather than a vi­ral in­fec­tion, ac­cord­ing to spe­cial­ist pae­di­a­tri­cian Dr Ne­landra Chetty. Dr Chetty ex­plains: “New­born ba­bies have a de­vel­op­ing im­mune sys­tem, and are there­fore prone to in­fec­tions. If a baby un­der three months of age has a fever, it needs ur­gent at­ten­tion, as this can of­ten be caused by a bac­te­rial in­fec­tion, like sep­ticemia, menin­gi­tis or pneu­mo­nia.”


When your baby starts to wheeze, or if they’re bat­tling to breathe, your adrenalin will prob­a­bly kick in, prompt­ing you to seek med­i­cal at­ten­tion very quickly. Act on it, be­cause rapid breath­ing or wheez­ing can be a sign of pneu­mo­nia or an ob­struc­tion in their air­way. If it seems to have started very quickly, it could also be a sign of your baby hav­ing drawn milk into their lungs. Ei­ther way, let your nat­u­ral in­stincts guide you – di­rectly to the emer­gency room.


While it’s com­mon for new­born ba­bies to “spit up” parts of their feeds dur­ing the first few weeks, per­sis­tent vom­it­ing is some­thing to be con­cerned about. Telling the dif­fer­ence be­tween pos­set­ing and out­right vom­it­ing is quite sim­ple – when your baby is vom­it­ing, they’ll bring up all or most of their milk. With pos­set­ing, it’s just a lit­tle bit. While a bout of vom­it­ing with no other symp­toms may just be a sign of a de­vel­op­ing tummy, this should sub­side within six to twenty-four hours. If it has not sub­sided, and you’ve done your best to keep your baby hy­drated, it’s time to get to the doc­tor. De­hy­dra­tion is a com­mon con­se­quence of vom­it­ing, and that’s a se­ri­ous prob­lem. Most of­ten, per­sis­tent vom­it­ing can be a sign of in­fec­tion or a gut ob­struc­tion. And if you’re more con­cerned about what’s erupt­ing from the bot­tom end of your baby, here’s what to look out for, and why: Blood in the urine – a con­sis­tently pink-stained nappy may be a sign of a uri­nary tract in­fec­tion (UTI). Blood in the stool – if you no­tice streaks of blood in your baby’s soiled nappy, it could be a sign of an in­testi­nal in­fec­tion or of a cow milk pro­tein al­lergy.


A new­born baby that re­fuses to drink can be most dis­tress­ing for par­ents. But, don’t be alarmed if it hap­pens once – be alarmed if it’s hap­pened two or three times in a row. If your baby has re­fused the breast or bot­tle and has, as a re­sult, skipped quite a few feeds, it’s time to head to the doc­tor, as this can be a sign of an un­der­ly­ing in­fec­tion.


It’s com­mon for ba­bies to un­dergo one or many bouts of nappy or heat rash. Tech­ni­cally known as ir­ri­tant der­mati­tis, nappy rash is un­com­fort­able for your baby, but can eas­ily be fixed with reg­u­lar nappy changes, proper wash­ing and dry­ing and the ap­pli­ca­tion of wa­ter-re­pel­lent zinc cream or pe­tro­leum jelly. It’s also a good idea to let your baby spend some time nap­pyfree, as this can help to soothe and heal the nappy rash more quickly. But rashes that are most def­i­nitely not nappy rash, or that cover other parts of their body, should raise the alarm bells. As Dr Chetty out­lines, “a blis­ter­ing rash that looks like a burn could point to a staphy­lo­coc­cal bac­te­rial in­fec­tion.” Also known as “scalded skin syn­drome” (SSS) or staph in­fec­tion, it’s most of­ten ac­com­pa­nied by a fever, and it should be im­me­di­ately at­tended to, as left un­treated, could lead to sta­phy­lo­coc­cus bac­te­ria en­ter­ing your baby’s blood­stream. A rash that sud­denly ap­pears af­ter your baby has fed can also be a ticket to the doc­tor’s rooms as this may in­di­cate a food-re­lated al­ler­gic re­ac­tion. YB

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