Newborn and infant health concerns
Reducing risk of injury
- Injury is a leading cause of death and disability among children.
- Many injuries occur is at home.
- The most common injuries are falls, drowning, burns and scalds, and poisonings.
- Most accidents are preventable.
Safe sleeping and SIDS
It is important to be familiar with information on how to safely sleep your baby and ways to reduce the risk of Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy (SUDI) including Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). It is important that you understand this information before your baby is born, so you can be prepared and get your baby’s cot/bassinet ready.
For information on Australian standards for infant cots visit the Kid Safe Website
When purchasing a cot, the code you need to see is AS2172 to meet Australian standards.
It is Department Policy not to have your baby sleep in your bed with you.
For further information on safe sleeping visit the Red Nose website
- Immunisation is a safe and effective way of protecting your baby from harmful and contagious diseases.
- Your Personal Health Record book lists the immunisation schedule recommended from birth to 4 years.
- We strongly recommend you immunise you child.
- For further discussion on childhood immunisations please see your GP or Child Health Nurse.
Hepatitis B vaccination for the newborn
- Hepatitis B is a virus that can cause acute or chronic liver disease.
- If a baby contracts this disease, symptoms fortunately may be mild for your baby.
- However, most babies will go on to be chronic carriers which can cause liver cancer later in life.
- Hepatitis B is spread easily through blood, saliva, semen, vaginal secretions and breast milk.
- Immunisation is considered the most effective way of preventing hepatitis B.
- If given at birth is likely to provide life-long immunity.
- We offer this vaccination to your baby prior to leaving the hospital.
- Your baby will need a further three more doses of the hepatitis B vaccine to be fully immunised.
- These three doses are given at six weeks, four and six months of age in a combination with other routine infant immunisations.
- The vaccine is considered safe to give to your baby after birth.
- Minor side effects may include local swelling and redness at injection site, mild fever and occasionally irritability or refusal of feeds for a short time. These symptoms are short lived.
- Premature babies less may have a lower immune response to hepatitis B vaccine and may need a hepatitis B booster at 12 months of age.
- The vaccination should only be delayed if your baby is very unwell or has a high fever.
Vitamin K injection for newborns
- Vitamin K helps blood to clot.
- It is produced by the body and is essential to prevent rare but serious bleeding in the newborn.
- Some babies do not produce enough Vitamin K until they are a few months old.
- The injection provides enough Vitamin K to protect your baby for months until they can produce it themselves.
- Your Vitamin K can also be given to babies orally.
- When given by mouth, your baby must have three doses over the course of four weeks.
- If your baby vomits within an hour of swallowing the Vitamin K, the baby will need to repeat the dose.
- We require your verbal consent to allow administration of Vitamin K.
- If you decline Vitamin K for your baby, your doctor will discuss with you.
Plagiocephaly (misshapen head)
- It is common for a newborn baby to have an unusual head shape.
- This can be caused by the position of your baby in the uterus during pregnancy or during birth.
- Your baby’s head should go back to normal shape within about 6 weeks after birth.
- Flattening of the head in one area may happen if a baby lies with its head in the same position for a long time.
- A flat spot may also develop if your baby has limited neck movement and rest their head in one position.
Ways to prevent a misshapen head
Place baby at alternate ends of the cot or change the position of the cot in the room. Changing their cot position you will encourage them to look at different angles.
Tummy time and play time
Place your baby on their tummy or side to play when awake and always supervise. Change the position of toys they like to look at. Tummy time also helps with baby’s muscle and eye development.
Carrying your baby
Carry your baby in different positions varying the way you hold them.
Screening tests for your baby
Newborn Screening Test (NST)
- The NST is a routine procedure to screen for several rare disorders.
- Early diagnosis and appropriate treatment can prevent or greatly reduce the effects of these disorders.
- The test needs to be between 36-56 hours after your baby’s first feed.
- A few drops of blood are taken from baby’s heel in hospital or at home.
- You only hear about the results if a potential disorder is detected.
- To prevent discomfort for your baby during this procedure, we advise you to feed your baby.
- We can also offer baby some sucrose.
Hearing Test (National Screening)
- Most children hear and listen from birth.
- They learn to talk by copying the sounds around them and the voices of their families.
- Hearing loss can be easily overlooked because babies and toddlers cannot tell us they are unable to hear.
- The first few months and years are the most important time for learning speech and language.
- Hearing-impaired babies who receive help early have much better chance of learning to talk and understand.
- We offer a trained hearing screener to test your baby’s hearing while your baby is asleep or resting quietly.
- The screen takes about 10-20 minutes with results discussed at the end of the test.
- If this is not done in hospital the screener will contact you for an outpatient appointment.
- Jaundice is a yellow discolouration of the baby’s skin.
- This is caused by a build-up of a pigment called bilirubin.
- This pigment is a product of the breakdown of excess red blood cells. This is normal in all newborn babies.
- Jaundiced babies are not ill. They sneed help to reduce the amount of pigment to prevent illness later.
- If your baby becomes very jaundiced, a test to measure the level of bilirubin will be taken
- Your baby may need to be placed under special phototherapy lights.
- These lights help to break down the bilirubin causing the jaundice to gradually subside.
- You are still able to feed, change and cuddle your baby.
Usually, jaundice subsides quickly over 24-48 hours with this treatment.