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Newborn Terminology

Newborn Terminology, Medical Terminology

Acrocyanosis Acro/cyan/osis Blueness in the hands and feet. Can signify a disease or obstruction of the airway, lung, and/or circulatory system.
Apgar score Scoring system to assess the condition of baby in the first few minutes of life. Babies can score 1-2 in 5 categories – Appearance (skin color), Pulse (heart rate), Grimace (reflex irritability), Activity (muscle tone), and Respiration, 1 & 3 minutes
Ballard scale Scale to assess the gestational maturity of the newborn. Scale goes from -10 (20 weeks) to 50 (44 weeks). Newborns can score a -1 to a 5 in the following categories: Skin, Ear/Eye, Lanugo, Plantar surface, Breast buds, and Genitals.
Extrauterine Extra/uterine Outside of the uterus – refers to a baby that has been born and is now outside of the uterus - “extrauterine life”
Kangaroo care System of skin-to-skin care that aims to promote closeness of newborn or preterm baby, helps the baby regulate body temperature, intestinal tract, and respiratory system, all by taking cues from the mother's body.
Neonatal Neo/natal Pertaining to the first four weeks after birth.
Perinatal Peri/natal Around birth / after birth. Refers to the baby's first week of life.
Babinski reflex One of a handful of normal neonatal reflex triggered by stroking the sole of the foot. Big toe bends upwards instead of downwards – which the infant will change when they learn to walk.
Caput succedaneum Swelling of the fetal head at birth, often due to face presentation or other pressure from cervix and birth canal restricting some blood flow back into the fetal body. Bruising may occur but it should pit when pressure is applied, gone quickly
Circumcision Removal of the foreskin of the penis in newborn or infant males.
Epstein’s pearls Small white epithelial spots, or cysts, at the junction of of the hard and soft palate of the mouth. Very common and usually resolve themselves within a week or two.
Harlequin sign Sign is where there is unilateral flushing of the infant – one side is red while the other remains white. Vasomotor response that only lasts for a few hours and is considered harmless.
Macrosomia Large baby – where the birthweight is above the 97th percentile for gestational age and sex.
Marbling Appearance of veins over the newborn's skin, often during colder temperatures. Usually due to underdeveloped capillary nerves under the skin. Goes away with time.
Mongolian spots (congenital dermal melanocytosis) Dark bluish spots, often found in the lumbosacral regions but can appear anywhere. They are benign and disappear 3-5 years after birth.
Moro reflex Newborn reflex to any sudden movement or noise, with quick extension of arms. Aka 'startle reflex' – may be absent in sick or preterm babies.
Port wine stain (nevus flammeus) Unilateral birth marks that do not go away and often grow with the child. The marks are caused by a patch of skin that has an insufficient supply of nerve fibers, which make the capillaries expand excessively.
Rooting reflex Another newborn reflex, initiated by stroking the cheek or side of mouth – baby then turns to that side and opens his or her mouth ready to suckle.
Thermogenesis The production of heat within the body. For neonates, thermogenesis is relatively inefficient at first, so it is important to protect them from the cold.
Tonic neck reflex occurs when you move the head of a child who is relaxed and lying on his back to one side. The arm on the side where the head is facing reaches straight away from the body. Also called the fencing reflex.
Transient tachypnea of the newborn temporary condition, characterized by rapid respirations - up to 120 per minutes for up to 5 days – as well as cyanosis and grunting. More common after caesarean sections. Oxygen therapy is usually administered and infection must be ruled out.
Anencephaly An/encepha/ly Congenital condition when the fetus fails to develop a brain. Obviously fatal. Usually diagnosed in utero, but if not, can cause face presentation during birth.
Blepharoptosis A drooping or abnormal relaxation of the upper eyelid. Can sometimes be severe enough to effect vision. Also called ptosis.
Cephalohematoma Cephalo/hematoma Hemorrhage of blood between the skull and periosteum of a newborn baby. Often caused by prolonged second stage or an instrumental delivery.
Circumoral cyanosis Circumoral = around the mouth A blue appearance to the skin around the mouth. Indicates there may be decreased oxygen in the bloodstream
Cleft lip/palate Congenital defect where the lip or palate fail to close or fuse together. Interested with sucking, speech, and eating – must be corrected surgically early in life.
Diaphragmatic hernia Congential defect where there is an abnormal opening in the diaphragm and allows organs from the belly to go up into the chest cavity near the lungs. Usually happens to one side (mostly left) and restricts the lung on that side from fully developing.
Dubowitz score Due-bo-witz score A method to assess gestational age in low-birthweight newborn – used 0-5 days from birth.
Epispadias Epi-spay-de-ous Congenital defect where the urethra of the penis or vagina fails to fully close – must be surgically fixed. Relatively rare, but 4 times more common in males than females.
Erb’s palsy Upper arm paralysis caused by injury to upper trunk of brachial plexus nerves. Several muscles are usually paralyzed – caused by traction on fetal neck during birth, ie breech birth, shoulder presentation or shoulder dystocia.
Erythroblastosis fetalis Aka RH disease Type of hemolytic disease of the newborn. Occurs when the system of an Rh-negative mother produces antibodies to an antigen in the blood of an Rh-positive fetus which then crosses the placenta and destroys fetal erythrocytes.
Fistula Abnormal passage between two cavities of the body. In pregnancy/postpartum, can occur between the vagina and rectum, or vagina and urethra and/or bladder. Needs to be corrected surgically.
Esophageal atresia Ah-tree-sha Congenital defect where the esophagus does not develop properly. Usually detected by choking and excessive drooling, and even cyanosis. May usually go hand-in-hand with other abnormalities, however, can be fixed surgically.
Hip dysplasia Mild cases are caused by the ligaments and other soft tissue around the hip joint being too loose. More severe cases can cause subluxation (partial dislocation) and full dislocation of the hip, usually because the hip socket is too shallow.
Hydrocephalus Hydro/cephalus “Water on the brain” - a buildup of fluid inside the skull that leads to brain swelling.
Hyperbilirubinemia Aka – jaundice! When too much bilirubin accumulates in the body, usually associated with a liver disease. In newborns it's quite common as their body acclimates to extrauterine life. Depending on severity, may resolve itself to require medical treatment.
Hypoglycemia Low blood glucose – 70 or below. This can happen occasionally due to lots of excerise, long times between meals, etc. If chronically, usually caused by a disease of the liver, kidneys, or pancreas, IE diabetes mellitus.
Hypospadias Congenital birth defect where the urethra in males develop abnormally. There may not be an extra opening, but difficulty controlling urine or being able to stand and urinate may be difficult. Can be surgically corrected.
Imperforate anus Congenital defect where the anus, rectum, or colon has not formed properly. Rectum or colon may be connected to the vagina or bladder by a fistula. Can be corrected with surgery.
Kernicterus Ker-nick-ter-ous Bilirubin toxicity. Occurs in babies with severe jaundice, particularly due to Rh disease. Treatment includes blood transfusions or phototherapy.
Meconium aspiration When an infant has breathed in meconium that was passed before or during delivery. Causes severe respiratory distress and must be treated immediately.
Meningomyelocele Me-nin-go-mye-lo-seal Most common form of spina bifida, also called neural tube defect. Hernial protrusion of meninges and spinal cord through a defect in the vertebral column.
Microcephaly Micro/cephaly Abnormally small head compared that of other children the same age and sex. Child will usually have learning disabilities and developmental issues.
Nasal flaring Flaring open nostrils during breathing in an attempt to decrease airway resistance.
Phototherapy Florescent light treatment used to reduce bilirubin levels in jaundiced newborn. Helps excrete bilirubin without taxing the liver.
Omphalocele Om-fa-la-seal An umbilical hernia – where intestines or other organs stick through the umbilicus with varying degrees of severities. All must be repaired with surgery.
Pneumothorax Accumulation of air or gas in pleural cavity, causing collapse of lungs on affected side. spontaneous or follow trauma. Immediate medical treatment is necessary to remove air or gas.
Polycythemia Excess of red blood cells – occurs in neonate because of high levels of fetal hemoglobin.
Polydactyly Congenital condition of having supernumerary (too many) fingers of toes.
Rales Rales = rattle Clicking, rattling, or crackling noises that may be made by one or both lungs during inhalation. Usually signs of a respiratory disease, or fluid in the alveoli (small airways in lungs)
Retractions The sucking in of the skin around the bones of the chest during inhalation. Sign of difficulty breathing and increased use of chest muscle to help compensate.
Rhonchi Low-pitched snore-like sounds usually caused by airway secretions and airway narrowing.
Silverman-Anderson index system to evaluate breathing in preterm babies. Grades of 0-2 in following categories – chest retraction compared with abdominal retraction, traction of lower intercostal muscles, xiphoid retraction, flaring of nares win inspiration, and expiratory grunt
Strabismus Aka “lazy eye” A deviation of the eye caused by lack of muscle control. Makes it so two different images are sent to the brain – children often learn to ignore the weaker eye if left untreated.
Subconjunctival hemmorhage Broken blood vessel in the eye, not uncommon in the newborn because of pressure changes across the infant's body during childbirth.
Syndactyly Congenital condition of having too few fingers or toes – usually they are fully formed but one or more are fused together.
Thrush A yeast infection (candida) that causes white patches on the mouth and the tongue, in this case in the newborn or baby. Can be caused by immature immune system or use of antibiotics, and can be passed back and forth from the nursing mother baby
Created by: elisaself



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