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Diseases & Conditions : High-Risk Newborn


    • 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

      It’s a cliché that many new parents need to reassure themselves that the baby is still breathing. But what if your baby really is having breathing problems? A breathing condition called apnea of prematurity affects some babies, especially if they’re born early. But you can learn what symptoms to look for.

    • Assessments for Newborn Babies
    • 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 Overview
    • Breastfeeding the High-Risk Newborn

      Detailed information on breastfeeding the high-risk newborn

    • 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

      If your baby was born premature and needed to be on a respirator, her lungs may have been damaged. This can cause a condition called chronic lung disease (CLD). But CLD can be treated, and as lungs mature the condition can improve. Learn about the symptoms and treatments for CLD.

    • Cleft Lip/Cleft Palate

      Detailed information on craniofacial anomalies, including cleft lip and cleft palate

    • 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)

      CMV may be passed from a mother to her baby during pregnancy and is the most common congenital viral infection.

    • Delayed or Not Enough Milk Production

      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.

    • Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip (DDH)

      Detailed information on developmental dysplasia of the hip, including causes, symptoms, risk factors, diagnosis, treatment, and cast care

    • Diaphragmatic Hernia

      A diaphragmatic hernia is a birth defect in which an opening is present in the diaphragm. Some of the organs that are normally found in the abdomen move up into the chest cavity through this abnormal opening.

    • Digestive Disorders in Children

      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 that includes a combination of birth defects, including some degree of mental retardation, characteristic facial features and, often, heart defects.

    • Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

      Fetal alcohol syndrome refers to a group of abnormalities in babies born to mothers who drink during pregnancy. The problems include small head and brain, facial abnormalities, and defects of other organs.

    • Gastroesophageal Reflux (GER)

      Hiccups. Belching. Stomachache. Sound like a case of heartburn? It isn’t an adults-only condition. If your baby has some of these symptoms, she may have gastroesophageal reflux. If feeding changes don’t bring relief, your doctor may prescribe medications to help.

    • Glossary - High-Risk Newborn

      Glossary of terms relating to high-risk newborns

    • Group B Streptococcus

      You’ve probably never heard of group B streptococcus. That’s because you didn’t need to before you were pregnant. This bacterium generally doesn’t cause problems for healthy nonpregnant women. But it can cause illness in pregnant women and their babies. Here’s what you need to know.

    • Heart Disorders

      Detailed information on heart disorders in high-risk newborns

    • Hemolytic Disease of the Newborn

      This condition occurs when an incompatibility exists between the blood types of the mother and baby.

    • 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.

    • Hyaline Membrane Disease/Respiratory Distress Syndrome

      This disease is one of the most common problems of premature babies. It can cause babies to need extra oxygen and help in breathing.

    • Hydrocephalus

      Hydrocephalus is a condition in which a buildup of fluid in the brain causes the pressure inside of the head to increase and the skull bones to expand to a larger-than-normal appearance.

    • Hydrops Fetalis

      This is a life-threatening problem of severe swelling in the fetus and newborn. It develops when too much fluid leaves the bloodstream and goes into the tissues.

    • Hyperbilirubinemia and Jaundice

      A newborn with this condition has too much bilirubin in the blood. Bilirubin causes a yellowing of the baby's skin and tissues. This is called jaundice.

    • Hypocalcemia

      A baby with this condition has too little calcium in the blood. Hypocalcemia is more common in premature and low birthweight babies.

    • Hypoglycemia in the Newborn

      Babies who are more likely to develop hypoglycemia include those born to women who have diabetes.

    • Hypospadias

      Hypospadias is a disorder in newborn boys in which the opening of the urethra is not located at the tip of the penis.

    • Infant of Diabetic Mother

      A baby born to a diabetic mother may need glucose orally or intravenously. The baby's blood glucose levels will be closely monitored after treatment.

    • 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, medications 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 (LGA)

      The average baby weighs about 7 pounds at birth. About 10 percent of all babies weigh more than 8 pounds, 13 ounces. Rarely do babies weigh over 10 pounds.

    • Low Birthweight

      If your baby’s birthweight was lower than normal due to premature birth or some other factor, don’t worry. With proper medical attention and your loving care, your baby will soon catch up with the other children in the nursery.

    • Meconium Aspiration

      Meconium aspiration occurs when a baby breathes in amniotic fluid containing meconium (the baby's first stools).

    • Milk Expression

      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.

    • Milk Expression Techniques

      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.

    • Moving Toward Breastfeeding

      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.

    • Necrotizing Enterocolitis

      This condition appears to develop when the intestines are weakened by too little oxygen or blood. The weakened tissues can become severely damaged and die, which causes a hole in the intestinal wall.

    • Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome

      Neonatal abstinence syndrome is a term for a group of problems a baby experiences when withdrawing from exposure to narcotics.

    • Nutrition and Fluids

      When your baby is in the neonatal intensive care unit, your main concern is getting her healthy and home. Taking food by the mouth and gaining weight are two important steps toward that goal. Find out what happens to help your baby get there, including the role you play.

    • Omphalocele

      An infant with an omphalocele has a portion of the abdominal organs protruding through an opening in the muscles near the umbilical cord.

    • 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 percent solids and 78 percent 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 handwashing techniques before entering the area.

    • Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA)

      PDA is a heart problem in which the connection between the aorta and pulmonary artery remains open after birth, instead of closing as it should.

    • 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 this condition, a newborn's circulation changes back to the circulation of a fetus, where much of the blood flow bypasses the lungs.

    • Physical Abnormalities

      Detailed information on physical abnormalities of high-risk newborns

    • Pneumothorax

      Pneumothorax is a lung disorder in which air in the lungs leaks out through holes in the lung tissue into the spaces outside the lung airways.

    • Polycythemia

      Mild polycythemia may not cause problems, but too many red blood cells can increase the blood volume or thicken the blood, making it harder to circulate through the blood system and to the organs.

    • Postmaturity

      The most common symptoms of postmaturity in a baby are dry, peeling skin; overgrown nails; and abundant scalp hair.

    • Prematurity

      Other terms often used for prematurity are preterm and "preemie." Many premature babies also weigh less than 5.5 pounds and may be referred to as low birthweight.

    • 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 affects babies between 2 and 8 weeks of age and causes forceful vomiting that can lead to dehydration.

    • Respiratory Disorders in the Newborn

      Detailed information on respiratory disorders in high-risk newborns

    • Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)

      RSV is the most common cause of bronchiolitis—inflammation of the lower airways—and pneumonia in babies.

    • Retinopathy of Prematurity

      A premature baby comes with many special concerns, and eye health is an important one. Some premature babies develop retinopathy of prematurity, or abnormal blood vessel development in the retina of the eye. Learn about this complication and find out why screenings are so important.

    • Sepsis

      Sepsis is a term for severe infection that spreads throughout the body. Sepsis in a newborn is more likely to develop when the mother has had pregnancy complications that increase the likelihood of infection.

    • Small for Gestational Age

      Although some babies are small because of genetics (their parents are small), most SGA babies are small because of fetal growth problems that occur during pregnancy.

    • Special Care

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

    • 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)

      SIDS stands for sudden infant death syndrome. It is a leading cause of infant death in the U.S. The causes of SIDS are unknown, but researchers have learned more about factors that can put your baby at risk. Learn which ones parents can prevent.

    • 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

      It’s important that babies in intensive care undergo regular testing so they get the important care they need. Here are common seven lab tests used in the newborn intensive care unit. Make sure to ask your baby’s doctor 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, 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

      Thrombocytopenia is a condition in which a baby has too few platelets—the blood cells needed for clotting.

    • Topic Index - High-Risk Newborn

      Detailed information on high-risk newborns

    • Transient Tachypnea of the Newborn

      Transient tachypnea of the newborn is a term for a mild respiratory problem of babies that begins after birth and lasts about three days.

    • Trisomy 18 and 13

      Trisomy 18 and trisomy 13 are genetic disorders that present a combination of birth defects including severe mental retardation, as well as health problems involving nearly every organ system 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 Birthweight

      Very low birthweight is a term used to describe babies who are born weighing less than 3 pounds, 4 ounces. Only a few babies are born this tiny.

    • Vision and Hearing

      Detailed information on vision and hearing in newborns

    • Vitamin K Deficiency Bleeding (Hemorrhagic Disease of the Newborn)

      Hemorrhagic disease of the newborn is a bleeding problem that occurs during the first few days of life.

    • 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.