Common Health Issues In Newborns: How to Spot And Treat Them

Common Health Issues In Newborns: How to Spot And Treat Them

Newborn babies are so small, fragile, and helpless that it’s hard for even the most experienced parents to think of them as anything but angels. However, no matter how perfectly healthy a baby is at birth, several common health problems can cause them to become more vulnerable in their first few hours of life. These conditions can be severe and must be diagnosed and treated quickly to prevent lasting damage.

Unfortunately, newborns don’t have a lot of ways of communicating what’s happening with their bodies. Early signs of a problem often mean it won’t show up until later. What we know about these health issues will help you identify red flags sooner rather than later. Continue reading on spotting and treating any health issues your newborns might face. 


Newborn Jaundice


Jaundice is a common newborn health problem in newly born babies caused when the liver isn’t fully developed yet. It can happen because of various factors, including a baby’s age and health at the time of birth, their overall genetic make-up, their mother’s health during pregnancy, how they are delivered, and their race. While jaundice is normal in newborns, a high level of bilirubin, a chemical found in blood, can cause a yellow discoloration of the baby’s skin, eyes, and the inside of the mouth.

This is most often seen in Caucasian and Asian babies because their skin is more sensitive to discoloration than babies with darker skin tones. However, a very high bilirubin level in the blood can be dangerous and cause brain damage or other problems if not treated. Usually, this happens in the first few days after birth when the mother’s milk comes in. Breast milk tends to have higher bilirubin levels than formula, so many babies with this condition must stay in the hospital a little longer to ensure their jaundice is gone.

Breast milk jaundice happens when a baby does not get enough milk from one breast during a feeding. This causes the baby to suck in air through the nipple, which makes the milk more acidic. The more acidic the milk, the higher the bilirubin levels. If a baby is not latched on correctly, they can also suck in air through their nose, which causes the same problem.


Newborn Intestinal Problems


One newborn health problem that can be dangerous for a baby is intestinal issues, including a small intestinal blockage and necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC). A small intestinal blockage (also known as intestinal obstruction or intestinal stenosis) is when a part of the baby’s intestine gets blocked by a piece of tissue or a clump of blood. However, this can often be treated without any long-term effects. NEC is when the baby’s intestinal tissue dies because of a lack of blood supply. This leads to an infection in the baby’s intestine, which can be very serious, even life-threatening.

The second intestinal issue which can occur in newborns is umbilical hernias. In most cases, they close on their own within a few weeks. If the hernia doesn’t complete within three months, your baby may need surgery. Surgery to fix an umbilical hernia is usually done when your baby is around one month old. During the surgery, your doctor will close the hole in your baby’s abdomen with a few stitches. Umbilical hernias are common in newborns.

In most cases, they close on their own within a few weeks. If the hernia doesn’t complete within three months, your baby may need surgery. Surgery to fix an umbilical hernia is usually done when your baby is around one month old. During the surgery, your doctor will close the hole in your baby’s abdomen with a few stitches.


Newborn Hearing Problems


The most common issue newborns face transient hearing loss, which can happen due to several factors, including the baby’s health at the time of birth, the length of the pregnancy, and the delivery. During the initial few days after birth, a baby’s hearing can also be affected by certain drugs and infections, including ear infections, meningitis, and pneumonia. Some babies might also have an underlying condition affecting their hearing, such as a genetic disorder. A child with a hearing problem might need hearing aids or cochlear implants. Kids who have hearing problems may have trouble in school. This can happen because they can’t hear the teacher, they can’t communicate with their classmates, or they feel left out.

Kids who have hearing problems can benefit from hearing aids or cochlear implants. They can also benefit from speech therapy. Speech therapists can help kids improve their communication skills. They can also help kids with social skills.


Newborn Breathing Problems


Newborn health issues that impact breathing include respiratory distress syndrome (RDS), respiratory infections, pneumonia, croup, and a respiratory obstruction (like a small intestinal blockage). RDS happens when a newborn baby’s lungs aren’t fully developed and aren’t able to transfer oxygen properly.

It can be treated with an oxygen machine, medication, and helping the baby grow their lungs. Respiratory infections, such as bronchitis, pneumonia, and RSV, are common in newborns, especially in babies born early or those who spend some time in the NICU. Many parents are worried that they can pass these infections onto their babies, but they aren’t signs of poor hygiene.

These infections are usually given to babies during the birthing process, such as during the delivery of their placenta (afterbirth). New parents can do things to reduce the risk of their baby getting an infection. This includes washing their hands regularly and avoiding people who have colds.


Newborn Skin Problems


Several skin issues can cause problems for newborns, such as erythema toxicum, milia, scabies, and varicella (chickenpox).

Erythema toxicum is a rash that can appear on a newborn’s skin within 24 hours of birth. It may usually resolve in a couple of days, but it can sometimes be mistaken for another newborn health problem, like a bacterial infection.

The second is Milia, which appears as tiny white bumps on the skin when a baby is born. They aren’t harmful but will go away on their own within a few weeks.

The third is Scabies, which is a type of skin rash caused by tiny mites that burrow under the skin and lay their eggs. They usually appear in 6-8 weeks.

Lastly, varicella, or chickenpox. It is caused by a very contagious virus. It usually occurs in the first few months and goes away on its own after a few weeks. It can be treated with aciclovir.


Newborn Vision Problems


A few newborn health issues can impact the baby’s vision. One of the most common is congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV). This virus is passed from the mother to the unborn baby. It’s ubiquitous, and almost all babies are infected at some point during the first 6 months of their life. It usually causes problems in premature babies (before the 37th week of pregnancy).

CMV can cause vision loss when the retina is infected. It can also cause hearing loss and intellectual and other developmental issues. Babies who are delivered preterm (born before 37 weeks) have a higher risk of retinopathy of prematurity or ROP. It can cause vision problems, and some cases are severe enough to cause blindness.

ROP happens when blood vessels in the retina grow abnormally and block vision. Premature babies are often given eye exams to watch for signs of ROP. If treatment is needed, it will be started as early as possible. Most babies with ROP will regain their vision as they grow; otherwise, surgery may be indicated. Scarring spots on the peripheral retina to limit aberrant development and eliminate tugging on the retina are done during ROP surgery.

Because the procedure concentrates on the periphery of the retina, some peripheral vision may be lost. However, keeping the central retina implies that the eye may still allow a youngster to accomplish key tasks like looking straight ahead, distinguishing between colors, reading, and so on.

The purpose of ROP surgery is to slow the progression of the condition and avoid blindness. Although ROP surgery has a high success rate, not all newborns react to the therapy. Part newborns undergoing ROP surgery may still lose some or all of their eyesight. Even if the ROP stops growing, eyesight might still be harmed. Because some vision loss and other eye issues might occur, any kid with ROP should have yearly eye exams until adulthood.




Newborn babies are vulnerable to infections and diseases as they are new to the outside environment. However, there is no need to worry. The information in this article can help you spot any changes in your baby’s skin, eye, or ear that might indicate an infection or need medical assistance, ensuring that you take quick and necessary action. Continue reading to stay updated on the factors affecting health babies, tips on raising children, and more.  

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