Five Common Illnesses in Newborns – Symptoms and Treatment

Every new parent hopes that their child’s health will be free of all health complications, but a number of illnesses have been shown to afflict many newborns on a regular basis. This article will discuss five common illnesses in newborns, giving causes, symptoms and treatment options for each.

The rotovirus is a viral infection found in babies and young children. Symptoms of the illness include diarrhea, vomiting, nausea and fever. The virus acts by attacking the lining of the small intestine. This results in dehydration from excessive loss of fluids and electrolytes. Often these symptoms will last from three to ten days. Children infected with the rotavirus can be contagious for ten to twelve days following the first signs of diarrhea. Home treatment consists of rest and administration of specially made electrolyte replacement products. Examples of these include gastrolyte, pedialyte and plamalyte.

Oral thrush is an infection caused by the yeast fungus known as Candida albicans. It is also called candidosis or moniliasis, but usually these terms describe the appearance of infection in adults (candida albicans). Oral thrush often finds its way into the human body when the immune system is in a weakened state. Newborn babies are especially at risk from infections such as oral thrush. Two specific causes of oral thrush are a reaction to antibiotics and transmission from a mother with a yeast infection. The main symptom of oral thrush is evidence of painful white lesions on the inside of the mouth. When oral thrush or a yeast infection has been diagnosed, both the mother and her baby should be treated simultaneously. The infection is usually treated with Nystatin.

Cradle cap is a common scalp and skin condition caused by excess oil production from the scalp. Symptoms include flaky, scaly or greasy crusts on the scalp, ears or eyebrows of an infant. Cradle cap can be treated by first loosening the crusts. Using baby, mineral or olive oil, gently rub the the crusts for ten minutes followed shortly by shampooing. Comb the hair in one direction with a baby comb, carefully removing crust remnants as you go. You should then shampoo your child’s hair three times a week during the first three weeks following the treatment. Afterwards, use the anti-dandruff shampoo once a week until the cradle cap is completely gone. If the condition worsens or begins to look infected you should immediately contact your pediatrician.

Cat scratch fever is a bacterial infection caused by the microorganism Bartonella henselae. It is most often caused from a scratch or bite from a cat or kitten. Symptoms of a cat scratch infection include small pimples forming around the wound as it heals. These pimples can last up to a month. Your baby’s lymph nodes may become swollen and tender. Other symptoms include headache, fever, poor appetite and fatigue. If you suspect that your child has developed cat scratch fever, you should contact your pediatrician immediately. You can take preventative measures by carefully cleaning scratches and bites from cats with soap and water.

Like oral thrush, ringworm is a fungal infection of the skin. It generally affects the scalp in a condition called tinea capitis. When the fungal infection is present on the body it is referred to as tinea coporis. Symptoms of a ringworm infection in infants include coin-sized scaly patches. These rashes may be dry or moist and generally stop growing once they are an inch in diameter. Ringworm on the scalp may look like bald spots or scaly patches with hair broken off in the center. Sometimes ringworm is inappropriately confused with cradle cap. Treatment for ringworm should begin by consulting with your pediatrician. He or she will most likely suggest an over-the-counter anti-fungus cream. Further prevention of reinfection includes carefully washing your baby’s bedding until the infection is completely cleared up.

The presence of any one of these illnesses would be cause for concern by any parent. Thankfully, with proper attention to symptoms, consultation with a pediatrician and careful treatment each of them can be addressed and cured. With patience and care you will be able to return to the joy of nourishing your healthy newborn child.

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