Newborn babies can suffer from health conditions just like children, teens, and adults. However, a newborn cannot tell you when something is wrong. Therefore, you have to be vigilant, watching for signs that something might be causing your baby distress. Here are four conditions you should watch for in an infant.
Ventricular Septal Defect
A ventricular septal defect, also called a hole in the heart, is the most common type of congenital heart defect. Whether symptoms occur depends on the size of the hole. Most of the time, a doctor will be able to spot a ventricular septal defect when he listens to a baby’s heart. Babies with ventricular septal defects have heart murmurs, a noise that can be heard in the heart when blood flows through the hole.
Though a doctor can usually detect these types of defects when listening to your baby’s heart, there are symptoms you should watch for. Babies who have a ventricular septal defect may breathe faster or tire out during feedings. They may also get sweaty or cry during feedings. Babies with this type of heart defect may gain weight at a slower rate as well. If you notice any of these symptoms, please tell your baby’s pediatrician about them.
Small holes may not cause any symptoms and may close by themselves. Larger holes usually need to be repaired surgically. Ventricular septal defects can usually be treated successfully without many complications.
An intestinal malrotation can occur early in pregnancy. It occurs when a baby’s intestines don’t form in a coil within its abdomen. Instead, the baby’s intestines or bowel are twisted, which can cause a blockage.
When an intestinal blockage occurs, food cannot pass through the body normally. Thus, one of the first signs of intestinal malrotation is abdominal cramping and pain. A baby who is experiencing abdominal cramps might pull her legs up and cry, stop crying suddenly, behave normally for 15 to 30 minutes, and then repeat the behavior when another cramp occurs. Babies may also have difficulty pooping or be lethargic or fussy.
Another symptom of malrotation is vomiting. The vomit may look like feces or contain bile, which is green or yellow in color. A swollen abdomen tender to the touch, little or no urination, bloody poop, diarrhea, or constipation, rapid breathing and heart rate, fever, and fussiness are other signs of intestinal malrotation.
If you notice any of these symptoms in your infant, you should talk to her pediatrician. Blockages need to be treated surgically.
Craniosynostosis is a birth defect that occurs when one or more of the cranial sutures, fibrous joints between the skull bones, fuse or close before your baby’s brain has fully formed.
A baby’s skull contains seven bones, which are held together by cranial sutures. Normally, the cranial sutures remain flexible, allowing your baby’s brain the time it needs to grow. The cranial sutures don’t typically fuse together until your child is approximately two years old.
The signs of craniosynostosis are typically noticeable at birth, but they will become more prominent over the first few months of a baby’s life. Signs of craniosynostosis include an abnormally-shaped skull, no or slow growth of your baby’s head as he grows, a fontanel (soft spot) on your baby’s head that feels odd or disappears, and the formation of a raised, hard ridge on your baby’s skull.
If you notice these signs, it’s important to talk with your baby’s pediatrician. Craniosynostosis must be treated surgically. Treatment allows your baby’s brain to continue to grow normally. Most children have good cosmetic results and normal cognitive development after surgery.
Pyloric stenosis is a condition that affects a baby’s gastrointestinal tract and requires immediate medical intervention. Symptoms usually develop three to five weeks after birth.
Food must pass through the lower part of the stomach, the pylorus, in order to enter the small intestine. In pyloric stenosis, the pylorus narrows, which prevents food from exiting the stomach.
The first symptom of pyloric stenosis is usually vomiting. Initially, it may seem like your baby is just spitting up a lot, but this eventually turns into projectile vomiting. Projectile vomiting usually occurs shortly after feeding, but it can occur up to several hours later.
Babies with pyloric stenosis usually have few, small stools because little, if any, food can exit the stomach into the intestines. Stool containing mucus or constipation may also be seen in babies with this condition. Waves of peristalsis may also occur in pyloric stenosis. After a baby with pyloric stenosis feeds, you may notice visible ripples that move from left to right over your baby’s stomach as her stomach attempts to empty itself into the small intestine.
Infants with pyloric stenosis may not gain weight or lose weight. Babies may become dehydrated as the condition worsens. Dehydrated babies are less active, and their skin may look wrinkled. They may also develop a soft spot on their heads and appear to have sunken eyes. Additionally, because less urine is produced by the body, a dehydrated baby may go more than four or five hours without a wet diaper.
If your baby has any of these symptoms, consult with her pediatrician right away. Pyloric stenosis is treated surgically. Dehydration is treated with intravenous (IV) fluids.
Being a new parent is both joyous and challenging. Being vigilant is an important part of being a good parent. When you notice any abnormalities in your infant, consult with his pediatrician. Your pediatrician will be able to diagnose and treat any issues your baby has.