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Diseases & Conditions : High-Risk Newborn

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    • Adding to Mother's Milk

      Although your milk is best, it is not always complete with the nutritional needs of very small premature babies or some very sick newborns.

    • Apnea of Prematurity

      Apnea is a term that means breathing has stopped for more than 20 seconds. It can happen in full-term babies, but it is more common in premature babies. The more premature the baby, the greater the chances that apnea will occur.

    • Assessments for Newborn Babies

      Each newborn baby is carefully checked at birth for signs of problems or complications.

    • Birth Defects Index

      Detailed information on birth defects, including their cause and frequency

    • Birth Injury

      Detailed information on birth injury, including the most common types of birth injury

    • Blood Circulation in the Fetus and Newborn

      During pregnancy, the fetal lungs are not used for breathing—the placenta does the work of exchanging oxygen and carbon dioxide through the mother's circulation. With the first breaths of air the baby takes at birth, the fetal circulation changes.

    • Blood Types in Pregnancy

      A baby may have the blood type and Rh factor of either parent, or a combination of both parents.

    • Breast Milk: Pumping, Collecting, Storing

      "Fresh breast milk" contains the most active anti-infective properties. Refrigerated breast milk has fewer anti-infective properties than fresh milk and frozen breast milk has the least.

    • Breastfeeding the High-Risk Newborn

      Detailed information on breastfeeding the high-risk newborn

    • Breastfeeding Your High-Risk Baby

      Learning to breastfeed effectively is a process that may take days or weeks for premature and many other high-risk babies. But you and your baby can become a breastfeeding team if you are patient and persistent.

    • Breastfeeding Your Premature Baby

      Breastfeeding your premature infant is not only possible, it's the best thing for your baby.

    • Caring for Babies in the NICU

      Detailed information on caring for babies in the NICU

    • Chromosomal Abnormalities

      Detailed information on the most common chromosomal abnormalities

    • Chronic Lung Disease in Premature Babies

      Chronic lung disease is the general term for long-term breathing problems in premature babies. It’s also called bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD). Here's what you need ot know about this condition.

    • Cleft Lip and Palate in Children

      Cleft lip and palate are openings or splits in the upper lip or roof of the mouth (palate). A child can be born with a cleft lip, cleft palate, or both. Cleft lip and palate may be the only birth defects, or they may happen with other defects.

    • Common Conditions and Complications

      Detailed information on common conditions and complications of the high-risk newborn

    • Congenital Heart Disease

      Heart problems are the most common kind of birth defects. While children with some heart defects can be monitored by a doctor and treated with medicine, others will need to have surgery.

    • Cytomegalovirus (CMV) in Newborns

      CMV (cytomegalovirus) is a herpes virus. It is very common. It affects people of all ages and in all parts of the U.S. In most cases CMV causes mild symptoms, or no symptoms at all. But it can cause serious problems in an unborn baby or newborn.

    • Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip

      In a normal hip joint, the top (head) of the thighbone (femur) fits snugly into the hip socket. In a child with DDH, the hip socket is shallow. As a result, the head of the femur may slip in and out.

    • Developmentally Focused Care

      Premature babies especially need a supportive environment to help them continue to mature and develop as they would in their mother's womb.

    • Diaphragmatic Hernia in Children

      A diaphragmatic hernia is a birth defect. It happens in a baby during pregnancy. In this condition, there’s an opening in your baby’s diaphragm. This is the muscle that separates the chest cavity from the abdominal cavity.

    • Digestive Disorders

      Detailed information on the most common digestive disorders in high-risk newborns

    • Disorders of the Brain and Nervous System

      Detailed information on the most common disorders of the brain and nervous system in high-risk newborns

    • Down Syndrome (Trisomy 21)

      Down syndrome is a genetic disorder. It includes certain birth defects, learning problems, and certain facial features.

    • Expressing Milk for Your High-Risk Baby

      You will have to remove milk from your breasts on a regular basis if you are to provide enough of your milk for your high-risk baby.

    • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD)

      A baby born to a mother who drinks alcohol during pregnancy can have many problems. This is called fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD).

    • Gastroesophageal Reflux in Children

      Gastroesophageal reflux (GER) is a digestive disorder. Gastroesophageal refers to the stomach and esophagus. The esophagus is the tube that connects the throat to the stomach. Reflux means to flow back or return.

    • Glossary - High-Risk Newborn

      Glossary of terms relating to high-risk newborns

    • Group B Streptococcus Infection in Newborns

      Group B streptococcus (strep) is a type of bacteria. It can be found in the digestive tract, urinary tract, and genital area of adults. About 1 in 4 pregnant women carry GBS in their rectum or vagina. During pregnancy, the mother can pass the infection to the baby. The fetus can get GBS during pregnancy. Newborns can get it from the mother's genital tract during delivery.

    • Heart Disorders

      Detailed information on heart disorders in high-risk newborns

    • Hemolytic Disease of the Newborn (HDN)

      Hemolytic disease of the newborn (HDN) is a blood problem in newborns. It occurs when your baby's red blood cells break down at a fast rate.  It’s also called erythroblastosis fetalis.

    • Hernia (Umbilical / Inguinal)

      A hernia occurs when a section of intestine protrudes through a weakness in the abdominal muscles. In babies, this usually occurs around the navel or in the groin area.

    • High-Risk Newborn Blood Disorders

      Detailed information on blood disorders that place a newborn at higher risk and require clinical care by a physician or other healthcare professional

    • Home Page - High-Risk Newborn

      Detailed information on high-risk newborns

    • Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)

      Most babies with HIV contract the infection from their HIV-infected mother during pregnancy, or during labor and delivery.

    • Hydrocephalus

      A baby with hydrocephalus has extra fluid around the brain. This fluid is called cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). Too much CSF can increase the pressure in your baby’s head. This causes the bones in your baby’s skull to expand and separate. The baby's head may look larger than normal.

    • Hydrops Fetalis

      Hydrops fetalis is severe swelling (edema) in an unborn baby or a newborn baby. It is a life-threatening problem.

    • Hyperbilirubinemia in the Newborn

      Hyperbilirubinemia happens when there is too much bilirubin in your baby’s blood. Bilirubin is made by the breakdown of red blood cells. It’s hard for babies to get rid of bilirubin. It can build up in their blood, tissues, and fluids.

    • Hypocalcemia in the Newborn

      Hypocalcemia is when a person doesn't have enough calcium in the blood. In babies, it’s called neonatal hypocalcemia. Your baby can get it at different times and from different causes.

    • Hypoglycemia in a Newborn Baby

      Hypoglycemia is when the level of sugar (glucose) in the blood is too low. Glucose is the main source of fuel for the brain and the body. In a newborn baby, low blood sugar can happen for many reasons. It can cause problems such as shakiness, blue tint to the skin, and breathing and feeding problems.

    • Hypospadias in Children

      Hypospadias is a problem where the opening of the urethra is not at the tip of the penis. With hypospadias, the end of the tube is lower down on the underside of the penis. Or it may be in the scrotum.

    • Infant of a Mother with Diabetes

      An infant of a mother with diabetes is a baby who is born to a mother with diabetes. Because the mother has diabetes, the baby is at risk for problems.

    • Infection in Babies

      Newborns are particularly susceptible to infections. One of the best ways to keep your baby infection-free is to wash your hands before and after handling him or her. Other preventive measures may also be necessary.

    • Intravenous Line and Tubes

      Because most babies in the NICU are too small or sick to take milk feedings, medicines and fluids are often given through their veins or arteries.

    • Intraventricular Hemorrhage

      If your baby is born prematurely, there are many worries that likely go through your mind. One of the things that can happen is bleeding on the brain. Read on to learn about this and what doctors can do help your baby.

    • Large for Gestational Age

      Large for gestational age is used to describe newborn babies who weigh more than the usual amount for the number of weeks of pregnancy. Babies are called large for gestational age if they weigh more than 9 in 10 babies of the same gestational age.

    • Low Birth Weight

      Low birth weight is a term used to describe babies who are born weighing less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces (2,500 grams). An average newborn usually weighs about 8 pounds. A low-birth-weight baby may be healthy even though he or she is small. But a low-birth-weight baby can also have many serious health problems.

    • Meconium Aspiration

      Meconium aspiration happens when a newborn breathes in a mixture of meconium and amniotic fluid. Amniotic fluid is the liquid that surrounds the baby in the womb. Meconium is the baby's first stool, or poop, which is sticky, thick, and dark green. It is typically passed in the womb during early pregnancy and again in the first few days after birth.

    • Milk Production and Your High-Risk Baby

      A delay in the time when milk "comes in" sometimes occurs after the birth of a high-risk baby. Also, it is not unusual to experience a drop in the amount being pumped after several weeks.

    • Necrotizing Enterocolitis in the Newborn

      Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is a serious illness in newborns. It happens when tissue in the large intestine (colon) gets inflamed. This inflammation damages and sometimes kills the tissue in your baby’s colon.

    • Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome

      Neonatal abstinence syndrome is what happens when babies are exposed to drugs in the womb before birth. Babies can then go through drug withdrawal after birth. 

    • Nutrition and Fluids

      When your baby is in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), your main concern is getting her healthy and home. That means feeding your baby and having her gain weight. But feeding babies in the NICU is quite different from feeding healthy babies. Here's what you need to know.

    • Omphalocele

      An omphalocele is a birth defect. It happens when your baby is forming during pregnancy. In this condition, some of your baby’s abdominal organs poke out (protrude) through an opening in the abdominal muscles. This area is in the umbilical cord. A clear (translucent) membrane covers the organs.

    • Online Resources - High-Risk Newborn

      List of online resources to find additional information on high-risk newborns

    • Overview of Birth Defects

      A "birth defect" is a health problem or physical change that is present in a baby at the time he/she is born.

    • Overview of Blood and Blood Components

      Human blood consists of about 22% solids and 78% water. The components of blood are plasma, fat globules, chemicals, and gases.

    • Parenting in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)

      In most cases, you can be with your baby in the NICU at any time. The staff of the NICU will give you instructions on special hand-washing techniques before entering the area.

    • Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA)

      Patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) is a heart defect found in the days or weeks after birth. The ductus arteriosus is a normal part of fetal blood circulation. All babies are born with this opening between the aorta and the pulmonary artery. But it usually closes on its own shortly after birth. If it stays open, it is called patent ductus arteriosus.

    • Periventricular Leukomalacia (PVL)

      The head is one of the most fragile parts on your baby, especially after birth. Sometimes, damage can occur, particularly if your baby is born prematurely. One type of brain damage is called periventricular leukomalacia. Read on to better understand what this diagnosis means for you and your baby, and what doctors can do to help.

    • Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension in the Newborn

      Persistent pulmonary hypertension (PPHN) happens in newborn babies. It occurs when a newborn’s circulation changes back to the circulation of a fetus. When this happens, too much blood flow bypasses the baby’s lungs. This is sometimes called persistent fetal circulation.

    • Physical Abnormalities

      Detailed information on physical abnormalities of high-risk newborns

    • Pneumothorax

      Pneumothorax is a condition in which air in the lungs leaks into the chest cavity. Pneumothorax is one type of a group of lung disorders called air leak syndrome. A baby can have more than one form of air leak.

    • Polycythemia Vera in Children

      Polycythemia vera is a serious, but very rare blood disorder in children. With polycythemia vera, the bone marrow makes too many red blood cells. The extra cells make the blood too thick. This may lead to blood clots. The clots can decrease the blood supply to organs, tissues, and cells.

    • Postmaturity in the Newborn

      The normal length of pregnancy is 37 to 41 weeks. Postmaturity is a word used to describe babies born after 42 weeks. Very few babies are born at 42 weeks or later. Other terms often used to describe these late births include post-term, postmaturity, prolonged pregnancy, and post-dates pregnancy.

    • Prematurity

      A baby born before 37 weeks of pregnancy is considered premature or born too early. The number of premature births in the U.S. is rising. Twins and other multiples are more likely to be premature than single birth babies.

    • Procedures and Equipment in NICU

      NICUs are equipped with complex machines and devices to monitor nearly every system of a baby's body—temperature, heart rate, breathing, oxygen and carbon dioxide levels, and blood pressure.

    • Pyloric Stenosis

      Pyloric stenosis is a problem that causes forceful vomiting. It affects babies from birth to 6 months of age. It can lead to dehydration. This condition is the second most common reason why newborns have surgery.

    • Respiratory Disorders in the Newborn

      Detailed information on respiratory disorders in high-risk newborns

    • Respiratory Distress Syndrome (RDS) in Premature Babies

      Respiratory distress syndrome (RDS) is a common problem in premature babies. It causes babies to need extra oxygen and help with breathing.

    • Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) in Children

      RSV is a viral illness that causes symptoms such as trouble breathing. It’s the most common cause of inflammation of the small airways in the lungs (bronchiolitis) and pneumonia in babies.

    • Retinopathy of Prematurity

      Retinopathy of prematurity is an eye problem that happens to premature babies. The retina lines the back of the eye. It receives light as it comes through the pupil. From there, the optic nerve sends signals to the brain. Retinopathy of prematurity is a problem of the blood vessels of the retina.

    • Sepsis in the Newborn

      Newborn sepsis is a severe infection in an infant less than 28 days old. The infection is in your baby’s blood, but it may affect any body system or the whole body.

    • Small for Gestational Age

      Small for gestational age is a term used to describe babies that are smaller than usual for the number of weeks of pregnancy. These babies have birth weight below the 10th percentile. This means they are smaller than many other babies of the same gestational age.

    • Spina Bifida

      Spina bifida can occur in the early weeks of pregnancy, before you even know you are expecting. That’s why your baby is depending on you to have healthy habits in place from the start. Learn more about the prevention and treatment of this birth defect.

    • Substance Exposure

      Detailed information on substance exposure of newborns

    • Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

      Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is the sudden and unexplained death of a baby younger than 1 year old. SIDS is sometimes called crib death because the death happens when a baby is sleeping in a crib. It’s one of the leading causes of death in babies from ages 1 month to 1 year. It happens most often between 2 and 4 months old.

    • Taking Your Baby Home

      Your baby is finally ready to come home. Turn your nervous energy into positive action. Make a checklist for what you and she needs before leaving the hospital so that you can create a safe home environment. Here’s a list of items to get you started.

    • Testing and Lab Procedures for the Newborn in Intensive Care

      Babies in the newborn intensive care unit (NICU) undergo regular testing so they get the important care they need. Here are several common lab tests. Ask your baby’s healthcare provider about them.

    • The Benefits of Mother's Own Milk

      Premature babies who receive their own mothers' milk develop better eye function. They, and other high-risk babies fed mothers' milk, usually perform better on different kinds of intelligence tests as they grow older.

    • The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)

      NICUs provide specialized care for the tiniest patients. NICUs may also have intermediate or continuing care areas for babies who are not as sick but do need specialized nursing care.

    • The Respiratory System in Babies

      By about 35 weeks gestation, most babies have developed adequate amounts of surfactant. This is a substance normally released into the lung tissues to lower surface tension in the airways. This helps keep the air sacs in the lung open.

    • Thrombocytopenia in the Newborn

      Thrombocytopenia [thrombo-boh-sy-toh-PEE-nee-uh] means that a newborn baby has too few platelets in his or her blood. Platelets are blood cells that help the blood clot. They are made in the bone marrow.

    • Topic Index - High-Risk Newborn

      Detailed information on high-risk newborns

    • Transient Tachypnea of the Newborn

      Transient tachypnea [TACK-up-NEE-uh] of the newborn is a mild breathing problem. It affects babies during the first hours of life. Transient means it is short-lived. Tachypnea means fast breathing rate. The problem usually goes away without treatment in about 3 days.

    • Trisomy 13 and 18

      Trisomy 13 and trisomy 18 are genetic disorders. They include a combination of birth defects. This includes severe learning problems and health problems that touch nearly every organ in the body.

    • Turner Syndrome

      Turner syndrome is a genetic disorder seen in girls that causes them to be shorter than others and to not mature sexually as they grow into adulthood.

    • Very Low Birth Weight

      Very low birth weight is a term used to describe babies who are born weighing less than 3 pounds, 4 ounces. It is very rare that babies are born this tiny. But the overall rate of very-low-birth-weight babies in the U.S. is going up. This is because more multiple birth babies are being born. Multiples are more likely to be born early and weigh less.

    • Vision and Hearing

      Detailed information on vision and hearing in newborns

    • Vitamin K Deficiency Bleeding in the Newborn

      Vitamin K deficiency bleeding is a problem that occurs in some newborns. It happens during the first few days of life. This condition used to be called hemorrhagic disease of the newborn.

    • Warmth and Temperature Regulation

      Premature and low birthweight babies may be too immature to regulate their own temperature, even in a warm environment. Even full-term and healthy newborns may not be able to maintain their body temperature if the environment is too cold.

    • Your High-Risk Baby and Expressing Milk

      Most mothers find they get more milk in less time when using a hospital-grade, electric breast pump with a double collection kit when providing milk for high-risk newborns.