Paediatrician, Dr Kenneth Chua, provides an overview of some common medical issues a newborn may encounter.

Newborn Medical Issues

The birth of your baby is a joyous one. Yet, this can quickly change when health issues arise in the early months. Dr Kenneth Chua provides an overview of some common medical issues a newborn may encounter.

1. Jaundice

Jaundice is defined as the yellowing of the skin and eyes, caused by the breakdown product of the foetal red blood cells. It is important to detect and treat jaundice early, especially in the first two weeks of life. Severe and untreated jaundice can lead to kernicterus, which affects the brain and often results in irreversible brain damage.

2. Colic

Colic is another commonly encountered medical issue in the newborn. It is characterised by excessive, paroxysmal crying spells in an otherwise healthy baby. Although it does not lead to any complications per se, colic can be stressful for the whole family.

3. Rashes

A newborn's skin is prone to rashes, most of which are harmless and go away on their own. However, it is important to distinguish between normal rashes in the newborn and other causes, which require treatment.

4. Eye Discharge

Eye discharge is commonly caused by physiological immaturity of the nasolacrimal ducts (tear ducts). It is, however, important to recognise eye infection promptly and seek the necessary medical attention.

5. Gastroesophageal reflux

Gastroesophageal reflux causes a baby to vomit excessively. It is due to physiological weakness of the lower gastroesophageal sphincter, a circular muscle that tightens to contain the stomach contents. This laxity of the sphincter in the newborn results in a reflux of some of the stomach contents. Depending on the severity of the reflux, the paediatrician can advise on various measures and even medications, if necessary.

6. Constipation or diarrhoea

There is no medical consensus as to the definition of constipation or diarrhoea. Many parents get concerned over the colour, frequency and softness of their baby's stool, which can vary widely due to infection or allergy. They also depend on the baby's intake and whether he or she is breastfed or taking formula milk.

The article was based on the contribution of Dr Kenneth Chua, Paediatrician at Thomson Paediatric Centre.

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