Common Health Problems in Infants
If you’re a new parent, any abnormal behavior you notice in your infant can be alarming. Being vigilant of potential symptoms of illnesses or injuries is good since babies cannot communicate discomfort to you. Knowing about some of the most common health problems in infants can ease your fears and help you make sure you are doing what is necessary to care for your child.
What is Erb’s palsy? It’s an injury to the nerves in the arms or shoulders that can occur during birth. Actions such as pulling the baby out of the birth canal can damage nerves, causing muscle weakness, tingling, paralysis of one arm, inability to grasp things with one hand or a limp arm. A physician can perform a physical exam and order imagining, if needed, to determine the severity of the injury. With physical therapy, most babies fully heal in a short period of time. More severe cases may require surgery or may never completely heal.
Colic refers to a condition in which the infant frequently cries for no obvious reason. Since babies cannot communicate what is causing them to cry, it is not always possible to determine the reason. One common cause of colic is gastroesophageal reflux. Changing your baby’s formula or feeding schedule may help. If the colic does not stop after approximately three months of age, consult a pediatrician.
As you switch from breastmilk or formula to more solid foods, your baby may become constipated. You can tell that an infant is constipated when they are relieving themselves less frequently or seem to be straining to pass a stool. Occasional constipation in babies is very common and is often related to diet. Introducing some fruits and vegetables may help relieve constipation. If your baby is experiencing frequent constipation, your pediatrician may recommend medication or dietary changes.
If your baby seems uncomfortable and begins touching their ears more often than normal, they may have an ear infection. An ear infection is caused by the presence of harmful bacteria in the ear. Fortunately, they are easily treated with antibiotics. If you suspect that your infant may have an ear infection, you should see a doctor immediately. Failure to treat an ear infection can cause long-term hearing problems.
Recognizing symptoms of common illnesses and injuries in children can help keep them safe and prevent long-term health problems. If you are ever concerned about the health of your infant, you should consult a physician.