I spent about week of my pediatric rotation in the NICU and the newborn nursery. There’s certainly a lot that goes into having a safe and healthy baby. Let’s put it this way, there is a lot that can go wrong in a baby. It was interesting to observe how the attendings counseled new parents on how to take care of their child. The first step is to make sure that parents understand that babies must sleep on their back to reduce the risk of SIDS. We instruct parents to have rear facing car seats in the back, to take rectal temperatures and to bring the child into the emergency if their baby has a temperature greater than 100.4 because a fever in a newborn is always an emergency.
For me, it was interesting to participate in what goes on behind the scenes after the baby is born. There is a lot of reflex testing! Moro reflex, sucking reflex, rooting reflex, red reflex, galant reflex, and grasping reflexes to name a few. Paying attention to a baby’s muscle tone, breathing, and skin are very important. It’s amazing that so much can go wrong if appropriate measures aren’t taken by the mother or by doctors.
I have seen babies addicted to drugs, fetal alcohol syndrome, osteomyelitis, neonatal respiratory distress syndrome, infant of a diabetic mother, shaken baby syndrome, and meningitis. Working in a hospital tends to skew you perspective a bit because you’re in an area where everyone is sick. Sometimes, it doesn’t hit me that some of these cases are not all that common, but since I see it in the hospital so much, I assume they are!