Many problems in babies are associated with their immaturity and adjustment to a new environment. Premature babies are at particular risk of life-threatening conditions, but medical advances have greatly increased the number of babies that survive.
The first article in this section covers problems experienced by premature babies, those born more than 3 weeks before their expected birth date, who may have special problems as a result of their immaturity. The next article discusses congenital infections, which are transmitted from the mother to the fetus either during pregnancy or at birth as the baby passes through the birth canal. Although these infections are rare, they may have serious effects. Neonatal jaundice, which is discussed next, occurs in many newborn babies. In most cases, the jaundice is normal, but rarely there is a serious cause, such as the underdevelopment of the bile ducts in the baby’s liver. Problems experienced with sleeping, feeding, crying, colic, and teething are also covered. These minor problems can be stressful for parents but rarely require medical treatment. The section ends with an article on sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), also known as cot death, and advice on how to reduce the risk of it occurring. The cause of SIDS is not known, but its incidence has decreased since parents were advised to position babies on their backs to sleep. Other conditions that affect babies from birth are discussed in chromosome and gene disorders and endocrine and metabolic disorders.
From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.