Having a newborn baby, especially if it’s your first, could cause parents a lot of stress if they don’t know what’s medically normal. Does my baby’s skull feel normal? Is that skin color natural? Dr. Suresh Chandran will tell you what to look out for in your newborn, and when it’s necessary to see a doctor.
Common illnesses found in the skull: According to Dr. Suresh, ‘caput’ is probably the most common finding in a neonatal skull, which is the swelling of the skull. You will notice the swelling across the midline which is soft to the feel. Normally, this resolves itself within a few days. However, if you notice a swelling not across the midline, which lasts from weeks to months, then you must definitely take your baby to a doctor. This type of swelling occurs if blood collects in the deep layers of the skull, and it could cause anemia at birth, jaundice, calcification and hardening over the skull bone.
Jaundice means the yellowish discoloration of skin and mucus membrane, and it’s quite normal as all babies get jaundice in the first week. This happens because the hemoglobin is changing from fetal to adult type. Adequate hydration, urine output and bowel movements are essential for the clearance of bilirubin (which is released by the dying fetal red cells) from the body. This discoloration will appear after the third day, but if it appears within the first two days and persists beyond two weeks. If detected early, then a simple treatment with blue light and adequate feeding will suffice. However, if the baby remains jaundiced beyond two weeks need to see a doctor and have a number of investigations done.
In some occasions, the jaundice could be breast milk jaundice, where the baby would have high yet safe levels of jaundice that last up to three months. This is diagnosed by exclusion, and usually mothers have a given history of previous babies with prolonged jaundiced.
Look out for Dr. Suresh’s next article in this series on newborn health. Dr. Suresh Chandran [MD, MRCP, MRCPCH (UK), DCH, FRCPCH (Lond), CCST] is the Consultant Neonatologist available exclusively at Royal Bahrain Hospital from September 10th until September 17th. Call 1724 6800 to book your appointment now.