Assessments for Newborn Babies

 

Newborn assessment

Your baby won't be out of the hospital for at least 6 weeks. During that time, your healthcare providers will do everything they can to make sure that your little one is healthy and happy. It's also important to know what signs may indicate a problem or complication in the future so you can speak with your provider about these risks when it comes time for them to go home!

Here are some signs that newborns may have a problem or complication. If you spot any of these, please speak with your healthcare provider right away. -List of possible complications and what they could mean for the baby




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Apgar scoring

The Apgar score is a quick and easy way to assess the health of your newborn. It only takes about 5 minutes and can help identify signs that may indicate an underlying issue, such as breathing problems or low blood sugar levels. To ensure you receive this special attention for your baby in those first few moments after birth, make sure to ask for it!

The Apgar score is a benchmark in the first minutes after birth that can help determine if there are any potential health problems. It's important to have it checked and monitored, so contact your doctor at once if you see any of these signs or experience breathing difficulties with your baby. In addition to checking for respiratory distress, the Apgar score also checks the color of skin (pale), muscle tone (limp), reflexes (none), heart rate (<100 beats per minute) and respirations (<10 breaths per minute). Since this is such an important tool in determining whether something might be wrong with your newborn, make sure to speak up about any concerns you may have right away.


Sign Scor = 0 Scor = 1 Scor = 2
Heart rate Absent Below 100 per minute Above 100 per minute
Breathing effort Absent Weak, irregular, or gasping Good, crying
Muscle tone Flaccid Some flexing of arms and legs Well-flexed, or active movements of arms and legs
Reflex or irritability No response Grimace or weak cry Good cry
Color Blue all over, or pale Body pink, hands and feet blue Pink all over




Birth weight

The size of a baby is an important marker for their health. Full-term babies are born between 37 and 41 weeks of pregnancy, with the average weight being about 7 pounds (3.2 kg). Very small or very large babies may be at risk for problems in utero due to limited space or too much amniotic fluid respectively. Newborns lose 5% to 7% of their birth weight as they adjust to life outside the womb so it's important that you have your child weighed every day in the nursery by nurse practitioners who can provide guidance on how often they need fluids or nutrition. 

A baby’s birth weight is an important marker of health that can guide the medical team to adjust care. For example, very small babies and very large babies are at greater risk for problems. The nursery staff will weigh your newborn every day to look for growth patterns so they can make adjustments if necessary. If you have questions about how much your infant should be gaining each day or what a good length-to-weight ratio means, ask one of our neonatologists!




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Physical exam

checking for birth defects (like heart or lung problems) and any health concerns in the newborn's body system. Physical exam of a newborn often includes: checking for signs of illness in each body system, like hearing loss in the ears, abnormal reflexes or muscle tone, unusual skin coloration. The provider also looks at the infant’s head shape to see if it is normal looking; checks eyesight with an eye chart; feels all over with hands to feel bones and muscles; listens through stethoscope on chest to listen for breathing sounds that might indicate pneumonia or other infection 

A complete physical exam is an important part of newborn care. The healthcare provider carefully checks each body system for health and normal function. The provider also looks for any signs of illness or birth defects. Physical exam of a newborn often includes: checking the heart, lungs, abdomen, skin coloration, reflexes and muscle tone in various areas to assess general well-being; palpating (pressing on) all four limbs to check for developmental delays which may not be readily apparent from visual examination alone; assessing the hips by pushing down on them with one hand while holding up the opposite side of the baby's trunk to determine if there are dislocated hip joints present due to breech delivery or other cause


Gestational assessment

A baby's gestational age is an important part of a check-up. This information helps the healthcare provider figure out what kind of care to provide for that child, and can help parents plan. For example, a small infant may be more mature than he or she appears by size and might need different care from a premature baby. If you're worried about your newborn or have questions about their well-being, speak with our team today! 

The healthcare provider will check the baby's maturity during a prenatal visit. This is an important part of care, and helps figure out what type of care to give if there are any doubts about when pregnancy started. For example, a very small-sized baby may actually be more mature than he or she appears by size and need different care from premature babies who typically have physical needs that differ from those of full term infants.


Physical maturity

The Dubowitz/Ballard exam is a physical examination that looks at the baby's gestational age. If your child was born prematurely, it can be difficult to determine their true gestational age and they may score low on this test. Babies who are physically mature usually have higher scores than premature babies because of how their bodies change as they grow. This means you should take into account where your child falls in these stages when interpreting the results from this test. For example, if you feel like your daughter scored lower than she should have for her gestational date, ask yourself what stage of development she might be in and try re-scoring accordingly or consult with an expert about adjustments to make based off of her current level of maturity

The Dubowitz/Ballard exam is a physical maturity test that looks at the size and shape of major body parts to determine how developed your baby is. Babies who are physically mature typically have higher scores than premature babies, which means they may be more likely to survive outside of the womb. If you're pregnant or planning on becoming pregnant soon, this type of gestational age assessment could help ensure that your child has a better chance at life once it's born!


Maturity of nerves and muscles

The baby's reflexes. The provider tests the baby by tapping a finger on their palm or foot and observes how quickly they respond with a grasp or withdrawal of that limb. A score is given to this test in which 0 means no response at all, 1 means an immediate response but not coordinated enough for grasping, 2 means a well-coordinated arm movement from extension to flexion when stimulated, 3 indicates well-coordinated leg movements from extension to flexion when stimulated. If there are any abnormal responses then the provider will need additional testing done before giving an overall score for this area tested.  -The tone of the muscles around joints such as elbows and knees.

The baby's heels and toes. (0-3 months)  -The soles of the feet. (4-6 months)  -Flexing and grasping reflexes in the hands, wrists, arms, fingers and thumbs. (7-12 months). These are typically tested by tickling or stroking a finger with another object such as a Q-tip stick to see if they'll grip it tightly or not at all. The higher score is better for this test because that means their nervous system is mature enough to react appropriately when stimulated. This would be an indication that they're ready to move on from swaddles and clothes made specifically for babies who can't yet grasp objects themselves like socks or mittens!




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