COMMON PROBLEMS ENCOUNTERED IN INFANTS

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When a child is born, it is very delicate and is prone to many problems. These problems of infancy may arise because of the undeveloped immune system or any other congenital anomalies. These anomalies are defined as the ones that are present since birth. It is due to genetic problems or any other structural deformities which may be due to multiple reasons. Preterm infants are especially, vulnerable to many health issues s as they are born before their expected normal development is complete. The lungs and heart are the chief organs that develop problems that also include structural problems. Common health problems in infants include belly pain caused due to intestinal colic, cold depending on the weather at birth, injuries caused during birth, hole in the heart and other heart problems, breathing difficulties, jaundice, skin rashes, hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), seizures, infections, to name a few.

MOST COMMON HEALTH ISSUES FOR INFANTS

As it is often said, life is not easy, and this is true especially when life starts. Newborns are vulnerable to a host of problems. These problems can be divided into three main groups; before birth, while the fetus is growing in the mother’s womb, and after birth. Some of them are as below: 

  • Injuries during Birth
  • Cold
  • Coughing
  • Ear Infection
  • Colic
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Jaundice
  • Bloated belly
  • Skin Rashes And Infections

Premature birth can lead to many problems, thus the need for specialized care in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). According to statistics, almost 10% of newborns require such care in NICU. The problems usually encountered are due to the transition from fetal to newborn life, breathing difficulties, infections, low blood sugar, and severe abnormalities that affect the heart. Common newborn problems may have precedence even before birth, and some factors may play a role in developing these problems. Some factors include maternal health problems, maternal drug use, maternal lifestyle, and fetal problems. Chief maternal health problems that can cause problems in the newborn are – anorexia or bulimia, asthma, diabetes, epilepsy, hypertension, lupus, preeclampsia (high blood pressure in women accompanied by the presence of proteins in the urine), sickle cell disease, and thyroid disease. Diabetes and preeclampsia can cause severe problems in the developing fetus and contribute to developing significant problems.Another major factor that can cause problems in the newborn is the use of various medications by the mother while the fetus is growing. Some of the common drugs that can cause problems in the newborn are insulin, antidepressants (SSRIs, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), opioids, and anticonvulsants. Insulin increases the weight of the placenta and fetus, leading to hypoxic conditions. Maternal lifestyle can also have a big impact on fetal health. Alcohol consumption and tobacco smoking need to stop immediately. Active or passive smoking can lead to decreased fetal growth. Teratogens are substances that cause severe birth defects. Alcohol is a teratogen it increases the risks of miscarriage, stillbirth, poor growth of the fetus, and prematurity. In the present scenario where COVID is prevalent and has forced people to remain at home, online pediatric consultation has proved to be a savior. Best opinions are now available at your fingertips.

INJURIES DURING BIRTH

Birth injuries of newborns are usually a result of physical pressure exerted during birth, usually during transit through the birth canal. Most of these injuries are minor and get resolved without the need for treatment. Large fetuses are tough to get delivered through the normal birth process, and a C-section or Caesarean section is advised. Apart from the weight of the fetus, position just before birth plays a role in determining the injuries caused to it. Damage to nerves or bones is not a frequent phenomenon. The most common form of birth injuries includes head and brain injuries. Head injuries like head molding, swelling and bruising of the scalp, scalp scratches, bleeding outside of the skull bones, and fracture of one or more skull bones are most common. Rupture of blood vessels can lead to bleeding in and around the brain. Common causes of this rupture are birth injury, poor delivery of blood or oxygen to the brain, or a blood clotting problem. Prematurity significantly increases the risk of intracranial hemorrhage. Blood clotting disorder like hemophilia also increases the chances of such hemorrhages. Nerve injuries are not very common among them, but the most common nerve injury is the brachial plexus injury. It is commonly known as Erb’s palsy, where there is weakness in the shoulder and the elbow. Bone injuries can include fractures of the clavicle commonly known as the collarbone, and other fractures of the hand and legs. Sometimes there are injuries to the skin and soft tissues and usually require no treatment. Perinatal asphyxia is another problem encountered in the newborn. Whatever the reason for the development of asphyxia, these newborns appear pale and lifeless. They might need resuscitation. Pediatric online consultation can help distressed parents when it is unsafe to travel outside, and there are constant risks of contracting dangerous infections.

COLD

Newborns have weak immunity as it is in the development phase, and so it is common for babies to have eight or more colds a year due to virus infections. The most common symptoms of a newborn cold include fever, sneezing, coughing, decreased appetite, irritability, difficulty sleeping, and trouble nursing or taking a bottle due to nasal congestion. India has been famous for using traditional medicines that are from Indian kitchens. Some of these common Indian home remedies for running nose in infants include

  • Ginger and honey mixture provides excellent results for runny noses in infants. The juice from grated ginger mixed with honey needs to be given to the child almost three times a day.
  • Mustard oil is warmed with some asafoetida, garlic cloves, and carom seeds. It is then massaged gently on the back and chest of the child. It helps in relieving congestion and relief from a runny nose.
  • Jaiphal mixed with milk is also a great remedy for runny noses in children.

COUGHING

Coughing can be a nagging problem in infants, and there are innumerable reasons for the development of cough. Infants coughing a lot can be a problem for both parents and the infant itself.  They are not able to relax and sleep well, which further adds to the problem. If coughing is due to some simple reasons like the common cold, then simple cough syrups available in the market can help relieve the symptoms. Infant dry cough is a type of cough without mucus or phlegm and is a common problem. It is due to the upper respiratory tract infection (nose and throat). The conditions that cause dry cough include cold and influenza. Lower respiratory problems like pneumonia and bronchitis may also lead to the development of dry cough. Other common causes include gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), environmental irritants, and whooping cough (pertussis). Infant cough remedies depend on the reason for dry cough and are usually not very difficult to treat.

EAR INFECTION

According to medical experts, 5 out of 6 infants develop an ear infection before their 3rd birthday. The most common infection is otitis media. The most common symptoms of infant ear infection include:

  • Crying and irritability
  • Tugging at the ear
  • Difficulty in feeding
  • Trouble in sleeping
  • Drainage from the ear
  • Fever

Ear pain can cause a significant problem in infants and hinder their growth as they cannot sleep or feed well. Sometimes the problem resolves on its own, but, sometimes an ENT specialist consultation is required. These days it has become easy to get online consultation and get a basic idea. If one feels that the problem is severe, they can ask the doctor for a personal visit.

COLIC

Infantile colic or intestinal colic is a common condition in infants 2-3 weeks old. It usually subsides when the baby attains the age of 4 months. Intestinal colic symptoms include prolonged crying and fussiness in babies, especially in the evening. It becomes very tiresome for parents as no amount of consoling relieves the baby. The baby is otherwise healthy, and hence it becomes difficult for the parents as they do everything needed. The cause for this is unknown but underlying conditions like acid reflux and lactose intolerance might be responsible. Other symptoms are flexed legs towards the stomach, wrinkled brow, clenched hands, and flushed face. Treatments to relieve colic without medications include; swaddling the baby with flex legs, holding the baby on its side or stomach, swinging the baby side to side or back and forth, making a shushing sound, and breastfeeding. Colic drops for infants having dimethicone can be given to provide relief. Some severe conditions may also feel like colic, and if this is the case, parents can always seek online pediatrician consultation.

CONSTIPATION

Constipation in infants is usually uncommon, and newborns have soft and loose stool. Some indicators that might point out the presence of constipation are hard bowel movements. The baby has to arch their back as they face difficulty passing stool along with crying and fewer infrequent bowel movements. Constipation usually occurs in an infant once they start having solid food. Infant constipation treatment includes the inclusion of fibrous foods and juices. Rarely constipation is caused by an underlying condition, and if dietary changes do not resolve the problem, the parents should consult a pediatrician.

DIARRHEA

Babies pass soft and loose stools and are frequent, usually with every feeding. So it is difficult for parents to diagnose if the baby is suffering from diarrhea. Common observations indicate that diarrhea in infants is marked by changes in stool, more stools all of a sudden, which is more than once after every feeding. The first stool that the baby passes is called meconium. It consists of hair, old skin cells, amniotic fluid, and other debris, which are the remnants of the baby while it was in the womb. Meconium is usually referred to as green stool in infants as it is dark green and sticky. Loose motion in infants is uncommon.

JAUNDICE

Yellow discoloration of the white part of the eyes and skin is referred to as jaundice. Infants born before 37 weeks and hence are premature are more prone to the development of jaundice. It is caused by the presence of high bilirubin levels in the blood due to an underdeveloped liver. Other symptoms of jaundice in infants; include seizures, cerebral palsy, and kernicterus. Sometimes it might be caused by underlying conditions like red blood cell breakdown, liver disease, infection, hypothyroidism, or metabolic disorders that are pathologic. Newborn jaundice treatment is not always necessary, and in infants born after 37 weeks of gestation, jaundice usually resolves on its own. For specific conditions, treatment for that condition usually results in the resolution of jaundice. Some may require intervention. One of the treatments employed is the use of phototherapy that converts trans-bilirubin into water-soluble cis-bilirubin. The other treatment option is the use of exchange transfusions. One can get the knowledge of tests to diagnose the exact cause for jaundice by having online pediatrician consultation.

BLOATED BELLY

When babies cry a lot, they take in a lot of air that gets trapped in their stomachs and make the bellies bloated. Constipation is another and the most common reason for bloated bellies in babies. Some nursing positions can also let a lot of air slip in and hence result in bloating. Digestive problems and lactose intolerance can also lead to the formation of bloated bellies. Food allergies, excessive gas formation, and extended use of pacifiers are other reasons that cause gas to be trapped and result in bloated bellies. A newborn stomach bloated and hard indicates the presence of undigested food in the intestine. Online pediatrician consultation can help in diagnosing the cause as the symptoms can be conveyed to the doctor.

SKIN RASHES AND INFECTIONS

Since immunity is being developed in newborns, they are vulnerable to a host of viral infections. Skin rashes and infections in infants can be due to physical abrasions; as in diaper rash or some other infections. More common causes are viral infections like measles, fifth disease, chickenpox, hand foot and mouth disease, meningitis, molluscum contagiosum, etc. Other common diseases are ringworm infection, scabies, and acne. The most common and frequently encountered skin problem is the development of cradle caps. It causes greasy, yellow, or brown scales on the scalp. In some cases, it moves down to the face or neck. The most common newborn eye infection is conjunctivitis. This is the inflammation of the transparent part of the eye. The causes for this can be varied and include blocked tear duct, chemical conjunctivitis, viral conjunctivitis, and bacterial conjunctivitis. Oral thrush in the newborn is very common and is caused by the yeast fungus Candida albicans. It causes white patches or sores on the tongue, gums, and/or inside of the baby’s mouth. Treatment includes the use of antifungal gels or drops containing nystatin. To get an idea for your baby’s skin and eye infections, consult a dermatologist online and get the best opinions from the experts.

MEDIFLAM: CONSULT PEDIATRICIAN ONLINE

MediFlam is a Medical Tourism company engaged in facilitating international patients traveling from around the world to India while also having Telehealth and Second Opinion facilities on its platform along with the best hospitals spread across India. They have some of the most curated doctors on their platform having many years of experience in their relevant field. In this COVID era, it is difficult to take long commute distances and visit the hospital physically. There is always a danger of contracting dangerous infections. Teleconsultation facility proves to be a boon in such circumstances. For baby problems, online pediatrician consultation can help to get the right advice for quick resolution, thus saving time while being cost-effective.


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