Health Information

High-Risk Newborn

  • Adding to Mother's Milk

    Although your milk is best, it is not always complete with the nutritional needs of very small premature babies or some very sick newborns.

  • Apnea of Prematurity

    It’s a cliché that many new parents need to reassure themselves that the baby is still breathing. But what if your baby really is having breathing problems? A breathing condition called apnea of prematurity affects some babies, especially if they’re born early. But you can learn what symptoms to look for.

  • Assessments for Newborn Babies
  • Overview of Birth Defects

    A "birth defect" is a health problem or physical change that is present in a baby at the time he/she is born.

  • Birth Defects Index

    Detailed information on birth defects, including their cause and frequency

  • The Benefits of Mother's Own Milk

    Premature babies who receive their own mothers' milk develop better eye function. They, and other high-risk babies fed mothers' milk, usually perform better on different kinds of intelligence tests as they grow older.

  • Birth Injury

    Detailed information on birth injury, including the most common types of birth injury

  • High-Risk Newborn Blood Disorders

    Detailed information on blood disorders that place a newborn at higher risk and require clinical care by a physician or other healthcare professional

  • Blood Types in Pregnancy

    A baby may have the blood type and Rh factor of either parent, or a combination of both parents.

  • Breastfeeding the High-Risk Newborn

    Detailed information on breastfeeding the high-risk newborn

  • Caring for Babies in the NICU

    Detailed information on caring for babies in the NICU

  • Common Conditions and Complications

    Detailed information on common conditions and complications of the high-risk newborn

  • Congenital Heart Disease

    Heart problems are the most common kind of birth defects. While children with some heart defects can be monitored by a doctor and treated with medicine, others will need to have surgery.

  • Chromosomal Abnormalities

    Detailed information on the most common chromosomal abnormalities

  • Cleft Lip/Cleft Palate

    Detailed information on craniofacial anomalies, including cleft lip and cleft palate

  • Cytomegalovirus (CMV)

    CMV may be passed from a mother to her baby during pregnancy and is the most common congenital viral infection.

  • Disorders of the Brain and Nervous System

    Detailed information on the most common disorders of the brain and nervous system in high-risk newborns

  • Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip (DDH)

    Detailed information on developmental dysplasia of the hip, including causes, symptoms, risk factors, diagnosis, treatment, and cast care

  • Infant of Diabetic Mother

    A baby born to a diabetic mother may need glucose orally or intravenously. The baby's blood glucose levels will be closely monitored after treatment.

  • Digestive Disorders in Children

    Detailed information on the most common digestive disorders in high-risk newborns

  • Down Syndrome (Trisomy 21)

    Down syndrome is a genetic disorder that includes a combination of birth defects, including some degree of mental retardation, characteristic facial features and, often, heart defects.

  • Diaphragmatic Hernia

    A diaphragmatic hernia is a birth defect in which an opening is present in the diaphragm. Some of the organs that are normally found in the abdomen move up into the chest cavity through this abnormal opening.

  • Procedures and Equipment in NICU

    NICUs are equipped with complex machines and devices to monitor nearly every system of a baby's body—temperature, heart rate, breathing, oxygen and carbon dioxide levels, and blood pressure.

  • Milk Expression

    You will have to remove milk from your breasts on a regular basis if you are to provide enough of your milk for your high-risk baby.

  • Milk Expression Techniques

    Most mothers find they get more milk in less time when using a hospital-grade, electric breast pump with a double collection kit when providing milk for high-risk newborns.

  • Blood Circulation in the Fetus and Newborn

    During pregnancy, the fetal lungs are not used for breathing—the placenta does the work of exchanging oxygen and carbon dioxide through the mother's circulation. With the first breaths of air the baby takes at birth, the fetal circulation changes.

  • Group B Streptococcus

    You’ve probably never heard of group B streptococcus. That’s because you didn’t need to before you were pregnant. This bacterium generally doesn’t cause problems for healthy nonpregnant women. But it can cause illness in pregnant women and their babies. Here’s what you need to know.

  • Gastroesophageal Reflux (GER)

    Hiccups. Belching. Stomachache. Sound like a case of heartburn? It isn’t an adults-only condition. If your baby has some of these symptoms, she may have gastroesophageal reflux. If feeding changes don’t bring relief, your doctor may prescribe medications to help.

  • Heart Disorders

    Detailed information on heart disorders in high-risk newborns

  • Hydrocephalus

    Hydrocephalus is a condition in which a buildup of fluid in the brain causes the pressure inside of the head to increase and the skull bones to expand to a larger-than-normal appearance.

  • Hemolytic Disease of the Newborn

    This condition occurs when an incompatibility exists between the blood types of the mother and baby.

  • Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS)/Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)

    HIV can be passed to a child when he or she is in the mother's womb or as the infant passes through the birth canal. The virus has also been detected in breast milk.

  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome

    This disease is one of the most common problems of premature babies. It can cause babies to need extra oxygen and help in breathing.

  • Vitamin K Deficiency Bleeding (Hemorrhagic Disease of the Newborn)

    Hemorrhagic disease of the newborn is a bleeding problem that occurs during the first few days of life.

  • Hypospadias

    Hypospadias is a disorder in newborn boys in which the opening of the urethra is not located at the tip of the penis.

  • Hydrops Fetalis

    This is a life-threatening problem of severe swelling in the fetus and newborn. It develops when too much fluid leaves the bloodstream and goes into the tissues.

  • Hyperbilirubinemia and Jaundice

    A newborn with this condition has too much bilirubin in the blood. Bilirubin causes a yellowing of the baby's skin and tissues. This is called jaundice.

  • Hypocalcemia

    A baby with this condition has too little calcium in the blood. Hypocalcemia is more common in premature and low birthweight babies.

  • Intravenous Line and Tubes

    Because most babies in the NICU are too small or sick to take milk feedings, medications and fluids are often given through their veins or arteries.

  • Home Page - High-Risk Newborn

    Detailed information on high-risk newborns

  • Infection in Babies

    Newborns are particularly susceptible to infections. One of the best ways to keep your baby infection-free is to wash your hands before and after handling him or her. Other preventive measures may also be necessary.

  • Intraventricular Hemorrhage

    If your baby is born prematurely, there are many worries that likely go through your mind. One of the things that can happen is bleeding on the brain. Read on to learn about this and what doctors can do help your baby.

  • Low Birthweight

    If your baby’s birthweight was lower than normal due to premature birth or some other factor, don’t worry. With proper medical attention and your loving care, your baby will soon catch up with the other children in the nursery.

  • Large for Gestational Age (LGA)

    The average baby weighs about 7 pounds at birth. About 10 percent of all babies weigh more than 8 pounds, 13 ounces. Rarely do babies weigh over 10 pounds.

  • Meconium Aspiration

    Meconium aspiration occurs when a baby breathes in amniotic fluid containing meconium (the baby's first stools).

  • Breast Milk: Pumping, Collecting, Storing

    "Fresh breast milk" contains the most active anti-infective properties. Refrigerated breast milk has fewer anti-infective properties than fresh milk and frozen breast milk has the least.

  • Moving Toward Breastfeeding

    Learning to breastfeed effectively is a process that may take days or weeks for premature and many other high-risk babies. But you and your baby can become a breastfeeding team if you are patient and persistent.

  • Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome

    Neonatal abstinence syndrome is a term for a group of problems a baby experiences when withdrawing from exposure to narcotics.

  • Necrotizing Enterocolitis

    This condition appears to develop when the intestines are weakened by too little oxygen or blood. The weakened tissues can become severely damaged and die, which causes a hole in the intestinal wall.

  • The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)

    NICUs provide specialized care for the tiniest patients. NICUs may also have intermediate or continuing care areas for babies who are not as sick but do need specialized nursing care.

  • Delayed or Not Enough Milk Production

    A delay in the time when milk "comes in" sometimes occurs after the birth of a high-risk baby. Also, it is not unusual to experience a drop in the amount being pumped after several weeks.

  • Nutrition and Fluids

    When your baby is in the neonatal intensive care unit, your main concern is getting her healthy and home. Taking food by the mouth and gaining weight are two important steps toward that goal. Find out what happens to help your baby get there, including the role you play.

  • Online Resources - High-Risk Newborn

    List of online resources to find additional information on high-risk newborns

  • Physical Abnormalities

    Detailed information on physical abnormalities of high-risk newborns

  • Pneumothorax

    Pneumothorax is a lung disorder in which air in the lungs leaks out through holes in the lung tissue into the spaces outside the lung airways.

  • Polycythemia

    Mild polycythemia may not cause problems, but too many red blood cells can increase the blood volume or thicken the blood, making it harder to circulate through the blood system and to the organs.

  • Postmaturity

    The most common symptoms of postmaturity in a baby are dry, peeling skin; overgrown nails; and abundant scalp hair.

  • Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension

    In this condition, a newborn's circulation changes back to the circulation of a fetus, where much of the blood flow bypasses the lungs.

  • Prematurity

    Other terms often used for prematurity are preterm and "preemie." Many premature babies also weigh less than 5.5 pounds and may be referred to as low birthweight.

  • Parenting in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)

    In most cases, you can be with your baby in the NICU at any time. The staff of the NICU will give you instructions on special handwashing techniques before entering the area.

  • Periventricular Leukomalacia (PVL)

    The head is one of the most fragile parts on your baby, especially after birth. Sometimes, damage can occur, particularly if your baby is born prematurely. One type of brain damage is called periventricular leukomalacia. Read on to better understand what this diagnosis means for you and your baby, and what doctors can do to help.

  • Pyloric Stenosis

    Pyloric stenosis is a problem that affects babies between 2 and 8 weeks of age and causes forceful vomiting that can lead to dehydration.

  • Taking Your Baby Home

    Your baby is finally ready to come home. Turn your nervous energy into positive action. Make a checklist for what you and she needs before leaving the hospital so that you can create a safe home environment. Here’s a list of items to get you started.

  • Respiratory Disorders in the Newborn

    Detailed information on respiratory disorders in high-risk newborns

  • Retinopathy of Prematurity

    A premature baby comes with many special concerns, and eye health is an important one. Some premature babies develop retinopathy of prematurity, or abnormal blood vessel development in the retina of the eye. Learn about this complication and find out why screenings are so important.

  • The Respiratory System in Babies

    By about 35 weeks gestation, most babies have developed adequate amounts of surfactant, a substance normally released into the lung tissues to lower surface tension in the airways. This helps keep the air sacs in the lung open.

  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)

    RSV is the most common cause of bronchiolitis—inflammation of the lower airways—and pneumonia in babies.

  • Sepsis

    Sepsis is a term for severe infection that spreads throughout the body. Sepsis in a newborn is more likely to develop when the mother has had pregnancy complications that increase the likelihood of infection.

  • Small for Gestational Age

    Although some babies are small because of genetics (their parents are small), most SGA babies are small because of fetal growth problems that occur during pregnancy.

  • Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

    SIDS stands for sudden infant death syndrome. It is a leading cause of infant death in the U.S. The causes of SIDS are unknown, but researchers have learned more about factors that can put your baby at risk. Learn which ones parents can prevent.

  • Topic Index - High-Risk Newborn

    Detailed information on high-risk newborns

  • Special Care

    Premature babies especially need a supportive environment to help them continue to mature and develop as they would in their mother's womb.

  • Spina Bifida

    Spina bifida can occur in the early weeks of pregnancy, before you even know you are expecting. That’s why your baby is depending on you to have healthy habits in place from the start. Learn more about the prevention and treatment of this birth defect.

  • Substance Exposure

    Detailed information on substance exposure of newborns

  • Testing and Lab Procedures for the Newborn in Intensive Care

    It’s important that babies in intensive care undergo regular testing so they get the important care they need. Here are common seven lab tests used in the newborn intensive care unit. Make sure to ask your baby’s doctor about them.

  • Thrombocytopenia

    Thrombocytopenia is a condition in which a baby has too few platelets—the blood cells needed for clotting.

  • Trisomy 18 and 13

    Trisomy 18 and trisomy 13 are genetic disorders that present a combination of birth defects including severe mental retardation, as well as health problems involving nearly every organ system in the body.

  • Transient Tachypnea of the Newborn

    Transient tachypnea of the newborn is a term for a mild respiratory problem of babies that begins after birth and lasts about three days.

  • Turner Syndrome

    Turner syndrome is a genetic disorder seen in girls that causes them to be shorter than others and to not mature sexually as they grow into adulthood.

  • Hernia (Umbilical/Inguinal)

    A hernia occurs when a section of intestine protrudes through a weakness in the abdominal muscles. In babies, this usually occurs around the navel or in the groin area.

  • Vision and Hearing

    Detailed information on vision and hearing in newborns

  • Very Low Birthweight

    Very low birthweight is a term used to describe babies who are born weighing less than 3 pounds, 4 ounces. Only a few babies are born this tiny.

  • Warmth and Temperature Regulation

    Premature and low birthweight babies may be too immature to regulate their own temperature, even in a warm environment. Even full-term and healthy newborns may not be able to maintain their body temperature if the environment is too cold.

  • Breastfeeding Overview
  • Omphalocele

    An infant with an omphalocele has a portion of the abdominal organs protruding through an opening in the muscles near the umbilical cord.

  • Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA)

    PDA is a heart problem in which the connection between the aorta and pulmonary artery remains open after birth, instead of closing as it should.

  • Chronic Lung Disease

    If your baby was born premature and needed to be on a respirator, her lungs may have been damaged. This can cause a condition called chronic lung disease (CLD). But CLD can be treated, and as lungs mature the condition can improve. Learn about the symptoms and treatments for CLD.

  • Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

    Fetal alcohol syndrome refers to a group of abnormalities in babies born to mothers who drink during pregnancy. The problems include small head and brain, facial abnormalities, and defects of other organs.

  • Hypoglycemia in the Newborn

    Babies who are more likely to develop hypoglycemia include those born to women who have diabetes.

  • Overview of Blood and Blood Components

    Human blood consists of about 22 percent solids and 78 percent water. The components of blood are plasma, fat globules, chemicals, and gases.