Neonatal health testing from Randox: what to expect after birth
It’s been almost a month since the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge welcomed Prince Louis into the Royal Family, and as reported it was a natural birth with no complications.
But caring for a newborn baby in the first few hours of its life isn’t quite as simple as it may have seemed in the picture-perfect media coverage of Kate and William introducing their third child to the world for the first time.
Behind the doors of the hospital maternity ward, doctors and nurses are busy carrying out a wealth of tests to ensure the health of the neonates in their care. Because the time immediately following a baby’s birth is crucial for their development in the coming months.
Newborn babies are particularly at risk for some diseases because their immune systems aren’t yet developed enough to fight bacteria, viruses and parasites. Just a few minutes after a baby’s arrival, they will be poked, pricked, measured, tested, examined, cleaned and swaddled – all in the name of making sure they are – and importantly, remain – healthy.
The first test to be conducted is usually an Apgar score – a simple assessment of how a baby is doing at birth, to help determine whether they are ready to meet the world without additional medical assistance. Based on heart rate, colour, reflex response, activity, muscle tone and breathing, the Apgar score ranges from zero to ten, with anything above seven or above being considered a healthy score. Babies with a score below seven will have their issues addressed – it could be something as simple as moving them to a warmer room until they are able to maintain their own body temperature, or clearing their nose and mouth for more efficient breathing.
The baby is then weighed and measured, and may be given antibiotic eye ointment to prevent infections, and vitamin K to prevent clotting problems.
They will also have their pulse, abdomen, genitals, fingers and toes examined, and their Ballard score taken. This takes into account head circumference, chest circumference and length, to confirm gestational age.
A paediatrician will then assess risk factors for infection and ensure that the baby is feeding well. They will also check for jaundice, which causes yellowish skin when bilirubin, a compound formed by the liver, isn’t being broken down properly.
Neonatal jaundice is extremely common, because during the first week of their life nearly every newborn develops a somewhat elevated bilirubin level, which could potentially lead to jaundice. And the good news is, that if diagnosed early, jaundice can easily be eradicated, by exposure to a specialist light that can help break down bilirubin.
At Randox, we offer a test for bilirubin to diagnose and monitor newborn jaundice, which, in rare cases if left untreated, can lead to brain damage. Early, accurate diagnosis is therefore imperative and so to ensure the precision of the bilirubin tests, Randox also offers Acusera Bilirubin Elevated Quality Control.
The baby will also have their heel pricked for a variety of metabolic conditions including sickle cell anaemia, which causes red blood cell destruction. The Randox test for haptoglobin, a protein found in blood plasma, can help to diagnose sickle cell anaemia.
Or if the baby is premature, they will remain in the hospital nursery. Depending on how premature the baby is there will be different types of tests and treatment given, but they will have their temperature, heart rate and respiratory rate closely monitored. These vital signs will be checked regularly for the first few hours of the baby’s life.
So as you can see, within just a few short hours newborn babies are kept incredibly busy. Procedures may vary from one hospital to the other, but one thing is for sure: neonatal tests are vital in determining and protecting the health of babies.
Randox is committed to saving and improving lives – at any age and any stage of life.
Our innovative diagnostic technologies are versatile and easily adapted for use in the paediatric setting – keeping your baby healthy now and into the future.
For more information on neonatal health tests available from Randox, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 028 9442 2413