What to Expect from an Newborn's Physical Exam
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Join a discussion about growth and development by Dr. Hands, who presents all that any parent would like to know about any health concern during the first few years of child's life. This video shows what happens in a physical exam for a newborn baby.


What to Expect from an Newborn's Physical Exam What you have just witnessed is the exam of an infant. Infant is defined as age 1-3. However, there are other aspects to physical exams their age dependent. The first group we should talk about is a newborn physical examination and the specifics that are related to it. New born physical examination has one other aspect. In reference to height and weight, we determine if a baby is small for gestational age, appropriate for gestational age or premature. A premature baby is a baby that’s born early, but whose weight is appropriate for the age the baby was born. While a small for gestational age baby is a baby that can be born early or late, but the weight is inappropriate and small for the gestational of the child. This phenomenon has major meaning to a physician because there are risk factors associated with the prematurity. There are risk factors associated with small for gestational age babies. It helps the doctor in the future determine whether these risk factors are occurring or not to know about the neonatal history. An SGA baby for instance, is at risk of a growth failure of not living up to which genetic potential which a premature baby is not. Therefore, it helps to know if the baby was SGA because in monitoring the baby on the physical exam such as the one you’ve just witnessed. If the growth is falling below the projected curve, it would cause concern that this child may need an endocrinologic consult and may need some intervention to try to help the child catch up to the growth potential. The Apgar score which we referred to is a neonatal assessment of alertness at birth and is helpful to the parents and the doctor to know how the child has come through labor and delivery. The Braselton score is a very interesting phenomenon that takes a lot of time and therefore it’s really done. But it was really a major help in determining that medications when they were given to mothers during pregnancy made the baby not alert at birth, not responsive, affected the baby’s feeding early on and by doing scores with babies with or without medication on the using the Braselton technique, you are able to see the differences and the affect of medications among other things. Other things that we look for that are different in a newborn are there is a stool pattern difference. We go from meconium to transitional stools to milk stools. And this is another whole different area that we don’t talk about when we deal with baby such as you just saw or be examined. And lastly, we even go and look at the attachment behavior between the mother and the infant. This is important to help us with the social setting of the child. It has to do with how the mothers respond to the child and making eye contact, talking to the child, holding the child, body contact. And if the infants fussy what kinds of comforting they do. Even the way they refer to the child and the affection that they bestow on the child. These are nursing and doctor assessments that are done when dealing with the newborn maternal unit.