When an adult is experiencing pain or becomes sick, they naturally reach out to a medical professional for help. For infants and young children, however, expressing discomfort or signs of an illness can be much more difficult. Newborns and toddlers are not at a stage in development where they can properly voice their concerns, which means it's up to parents to be able to recognize potential warning signs or symptoms. In newborns, careful monitoring is especially essential as their immune systems are not fully developed and can be at an increased risk for infection.
Unfortunately, for many parents, there is a lack of awareness for seemingly simple symptoms that may indicate a more serious diagnosis. New parents are already overwhelmed with all the necessary care their child needs to the point where some medical knowledge may slip through the cracks. When caring for a newborn or a young child, it is important to pay attention to these potential warning signs that may present a serious condition. Below is a list of 5 potential danger signs in newborns that should warrant concern and a visit to the doctor.1) Arched Back Crying
When a baby is taken home from the hospital, it is very common and natural for a baby to cry several times a day, as that is their main way of communicating their wants and needs. Babies even have different types of crying to convey what they're asking for. When a baby continuously cries with an arched back, however, this could actually be a sign that the baby is experiencing pain. This arched back position is usually coupled with crying that is loud and intense. Through the arching of the back, the baby is trying to relieve some of the pain they're experiencing.
There could be several different causes for arched back crying, including colic, nerve damage, kernicterus, and cerebral palsy. Colic is a common condition in children related to an overly sensitive immune system, and is generally treatable. Nerve damage during childbirth could cause a newborn to have a pinched or damaged nerve, which can possibly lead to serious symptoms such as loss of sensation or chronic pain. Kernicterus and cerebral palsy are two different types of brain damage, where Kenicterus can cause hearing and mental disabilities, and cerebral palsy causing uncontrollable muscle spasms. Visit our page on arched back crying to learn more about the potentially serious causes of this behavior.2) Extreme Thirst
Extreme thirst is another overlooked symptom in young children, as babies spend a lot of their time expending their energy and need hydration often. It is important to notice if your child seems to have an insatiable thirst that is not satisfied even after several consuming significant water or liquid. This extreme thirst can be a symptom of illness or other serious health conditions like diabetes.
Contrary to what most may assume, diabetes does occur in babies and children and it is a serious condition that needs to be addressed immediately. If diabetes is left untreated, there could be several negative complications, such as nerve damage, kidney damage, and eye conditions. Other symptoms to be on the look-out for that are coupled with extreme thirst include increased urination, extreme hunger, and fatigue. Diabetes is a life-long condition that requires continuous monitoring and maintenance, so recognizing these early symptoms will give the child a better prognosis.3) Abnormal Weight Loss
Sudden and abnormal weight loss in babies is a symptom that may be more obvious to parents. As newborns and toddlers are developing, they are supposed to be growing and gaining weight at a normal pace. Most babies are regularly brought in to the doctor to document their growth and weight gain, so a dip in the scale may be a more noticeable symptom of something being wrong. If a child is rapidly losing weight, it is usually an indication of a serious problem. There could be many different causes to the weight loss, ranging from hyperthyroidism, to peptic ulcers, celiac disease, all the way to possible cancer. It is important to look for any other accompanying signs with the weight loss, such as dehydration, vomiting, or fever.4) Stiff Neck
Stiff neck is a potentially serious symptom of underlying health conditions that may be very difficult to recognize at first glance. Stiff neck means a child's neck has difficulty turning or tilting the head to different sides, and it may be painful as well. A newborn or toddler is typically not able to communicate or explain that their neck is not working properly, and often the only time a parent notices it is when they try to physically move their neck themselves.
If a baby has abnormal neck stiffness it is important that the child is brought to a doctor for examination and diagnosis right away. The reasons neck stiffness is such a concern is that it could be a symptom of meningitis. Meningitis is a possibly fatal condition where the brain becomes inflamed by some sort of infection. If the brain swells too much, this can cause loss of function. If your child has a stiff neck, it would be beneficial to check for a fever as well, as this is another common symptom of meningitis.5) Severe Abdominal Pain
Severe abdominal pain is another common ailment in children that is not always an immediate cause for concern. There are several usually harmless causes for abdominal pain in young children, such as gas, bloating, or constipation. If your child is having abdominal pain, there is no need to immediately rush them to the doctor, but it is important to monitor your child and record how long the pain lasts and where it's located.
If the abdominal pain lasts for a prolonged time, is centered around a certain part of the abdomen (such as near the appendix), or gets worse, parents should seek medical attention. Abdominal pain can be a sign of appendicitis, an acute condition where the appendix is inflamed, which needs immediate medical attention. Other causes include urinary tract infections or even cancer.Birth Injuries
Some of the condition and symptoms discussed above in may also be related to birth injuries. A birth injury is external or internal damage to a baby that is caused by some type of trauma or complication during labor and birth. If your child's symptoms turn out to be related to a serious birth injury like cerebral palsy, you may want to consider whether your child was a victim of medical negligence. Sometimes birth injuries are a natural and unavoidable result of the childbirth process.
However, a high percentage of birth injuries are actually caused by doctors committing mistakes in the delivery room due to lack of knowledge or poor judgment. These kinds of careless actions cause permanent damage, and if your child is affected by this, you have the right to obtain compensation.
Miller & Zois is a leading Baltimore personal injury law firm that specializes in medical malpractice. Our Maryland birth injury lawyers have the ability to investigate your situation and determine if there was malpractice involved. With over $100 million in settlements and verdicts, Miller and Zois can provide the expertise and support needed to obtain the compensation you deserve. Contact us at 800-553-8082 or submit an online contact form.