Warning signs of serious conditions in newborn

Published by Baby Bunting on Sunday, January 27, 2019

Australians are fortunate to receive some of the best health and maternal care in the world. From childbirth onwards, parents and babies are supported by a range of providers and resources to ensure optimal health outcomes for families.Although serious health conditions in your newborn are unlikely, some can manifest suddenly and therefore might not be picked up at regular health checks. Keep an eye out for some of the following warning signs that indicate your newborn needs urgent medical care.


While fevers are not themselves illnesses, they can indicate that your newborn baby has an infection. Redness, fits (febrile convulsions), a high temperature, lack of appetite and unresponsiveness are all symptoms of fever and demand an immediate visit to the doctor.


Anaphylaxis is an acute and severe allergic reaction. It can be characterised by rapid swelling of the face, eyes and throat, red skin and laboured breathing.

Because newborns feed exclusively on breastmilk or formula, it is likely the allergen is environmental rather than food-related. Doctors will try to discern what the cause was, so keep in mind the circumstances that led to the reaction.

Skin colour changes

Changes to the colour of your baby’s skin can be a symptom of a variety of serious conditions. Some of these include blood infections, allergic reactions, meningitis and jaundice. Skin that is pale, blue, yellow, mottled or persistently red is cause for concern and you should seek urgent medical intervention.

Breathing difficulties

Wheezing, persistent coughing, laboured breathing, and shortness of breath are all signs that your baby needs to see a doctor. These can arise from asthma, allergic reactions and pneumonia or can be an early sign of a genetic condition.

Changes to urine, faeces and vomit

Orange, brownish or pinkish tinted urine can be a sign of urinary tract infections, especially coupled with fever – which is a sign your baby’s body is trying to fight infection. Persistent diarrhoea and blood in the faeces or vomit are also cause for concern and require medical attention.

Weakness and unresponsiveness

If your baby is sleeping longer than usual or is unresponsive this could be a sign of rapidly deteriorating health, sometimes due to an allergic reaction or infection. Likewise, be wary of cries that are weakening or sound noticeably different than normal.

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