Children's Health and Wellness

Newborn Warning Signs

What warning signs may indicate a problem with a newborn?

Your newborn baby is going through many changes in getting used to life in the outside world. Almost always this adjustment goes well, however there are certain warning signs you should watch for. Some general warning signs with newborns include, but are not limited to:

  • No urine in the first 24 hours at home. This can be difficult to assess, especially with disposable diapers.

  • No bowel movement in the first 48 hours.

  • A rectal temperature over 100.4 degrees F (38 degrees C) or less than 97.5 degrees F (36.5 degrees C).

  • A rapid breathing rate over 60 per minute, or a blue coloring that does not go away. Newborns normally have irregular respirations, so you need to count for a full minute. There should be no pauses longer than about ten seconds between breaths.

  • Retractions, or pulling in of the ribs with respirations.

  • Wheezing, grunting, or whistling sounds while breathing.

  • Odor, drainage, or bleeding from the umbilical cord.

  • Yellow coloring of the eyes, chest, or extremities.

  • Crying, irritability, or twitching which does not improve with cuddling and comfort.

  • A sleepy baby who cannot be awakened enough to nurse or nipple.

  • Any signs of sickness (for example, cough, diarrhea, pale color).

  • The baby's appetite or suck becomes poor or weak.

Every child is different, so trust your knowledge of your child and call your child's doctor if you see signs that are worrisome to you.

Online Source: The Office on Women's Healthhttp://womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/when-call-baby-doctor.pdf
Online Source: American Academy of Pediatricshttp://www.healthychildren.org/english/tips-tools/symptom-checker/pages/Newborn-Illness-How-to-Recognize.aspx
Online Source: Emergent Evaluation of Acute Respiratory Compromise in Children, UptoDate.comhttp://www.uptodate.com/contents/emergent-evaluation-of-acute-respiratory-compromise-in-children
Online Editor: Sims, Jane
Online Medical Reviewer: Grantham, Paula, RN, BSN
Online Medical Reviewer: MMI board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Date Last Reviewed: 1/4/2014
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