Nurse’s Notes: Common Infant and Newborn Diseases

Posted: October 1, 2016 in Nurse
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infant diseases, newborn diseases, newborn illnessFollowing my post on newborn vaccines, I would like to share some of the common illnesses experienced by neonates and infants, along with their corresponding nursing management.

There are a number of common newborn diseases, but I will focus on five, which concerns the respiratory and digestive system.


Babies may have difficulty passing stools once they eat solid foods. When this happens, they may refuse to pass as hard stool is painful for them. Newborns,breast fed o formula fed, infrequent bowel movement (less than one per day) can occur. Blood in the rectal fissure can be observed during constipation, as hard stool is difficult to pass.

Keeping track of the baby’s bowel movements is encouraged to parents. Giving less constipating foods  such as bananas and rice cereals is recommended. Add high fluid and high fiber foods to your baby’s diet. If the baby is receiving formula milk, experiment with different brands until you find one that produces soft stools. A tiny tear in the rectal wall is healed immediately when constipation is managed.


Diarrhea is having frequent bowel movements and too watery. Often caused by a virus, but a bacterial infection, an allergy, or medication can attribute to the condition. Dehydration is a potential danger of diarrhea, which is why early management is a must.

Newborns who are breastfed may have up to 12 small bowel movements per day. More than this, along with watery output, is considered diarrhea.

As a nurse, you can educate the mother or parents to rest the newborn or infant’s intestines. Parents must keep track of their baby’s stool so they  can report to the doctor. If any signs of deheydration (lethargy, dry mouth, fewer wet diapers); bloody stool, high fever, and vomiting are seen, medical attention is needed promptly.

Gastroesophageal Reflux (GER)

Gastroesophageal reflux is common in babies because they have an immature valve between the esophagus and stomach. Infants experience different levels of GER, and it occurs when the acidic stomach contents regurgitate back into the esophagus. Pain is then felt by the baby. Vomiting, frequent wet burps, throaty gagging noise, and infant grimace are other signs of GER.

Nurses and physicians instruct parents to give small frequent feedings to their babies with GER. Small meals allow lesser reflux, and frequent ones stimulate saliva production, which balances stomach acid and lubricates esophageal lining. Breastfeding is encouraged since breast milk is easily digested than formula milk. Babies should be place in an upright and quiet position for half an hour after feeding to allow gravity to hold down food.


Newborns and infants are frequently visited by colds. Most common cause by colds is a virus that causes membranes of respiratory passages to swell and release mucus. Cough, increase breathing pattern, and wheezing may be experienced by the baby. Sleeping and eating pattern of the baby are also affeced since he can have low- grade fever, runny nose, sneezing, and decrease appetite.

Steam therapy is recommended by pediatrician, and nurses must ensure mothers should perform the therapy properly. The baby with trouble breathing, must sit on his mother’s lap in the bathroom with opened hot shower nearby for ten or fifteen minutes. The steam lessens the congestion felt by the baby. Giving the baby extra fluid is highky recommended for colds. Cold medicines are not to be given without going to the doctor first.

Respiratory Syncytial Virus or RSV

Respiratory syncytial virus is a major cause of hospitalization among children under one year of age. It is considered to be a very serious virus of early infancy. It may appear as a common colds with the baby experiencing runny nose, low grade fever, and cough. Wheezing is sometimes obeserve with RSV.  The difference of RSV and colds lie in the duration. RSV ca  last for weeks, and can affect the bronchial passages, causing bronchitis or broncholitis to the baby. Viral pneumonia is a potential danger if RSV is not manage immediately.

Taking the baby with resoiratory syncytial virua outside into the damp night air for ten minutes can help. Have a no smoking inside the house policy if your baby hasthe condition. Babies who are under three months, and are experiencing signs and symptoms, especially difficulty of breathing, need to be taken to an emergency room.

Do you know other newborn illnesses? Share it on them comments section.


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