Conducting Baby Checks

Baby in Arms

I would be delighted to conduct your baby’s baby checks. I am passionate about the importance of this and have undertaken countless thousands of checks over my career. Whilst in University College London Hospital, I led the introduction of baby checks to the private wards too.

Baby checks will probably be raised by your obstetrician too – they’ll reinforce the importance of them and that you need to find a paediatrician to undertake them. I undertake a great number here and work with all of Cayman’s private obstetricians.

I like to discuss baby checks antenatally, so you know what will happen when. If you have had a baby before, you’ll know how that works and may just want to book me. If this is your first delivery, please do come and meet me and explain all about them (and me!). You can book to see my antenatally using the form below:

 

Antenatal Appointment or Booking Me for Baby Checks

You can use the form below for either of these purposes. If you are simply booking me for a new delivery and don’t require a specific antenatal appointment (been there, done it before, got the t-shirt etc), just indicate this in the dialogue box and we can arrange it remotely.

 

Understanding Baby Checks

Generally, within 48 – 72 hours of birth, we undertake what are called baby checks, a thorough physical examination for your baby including some specific screening tests to find out if your baby has any problems with their eyes, heart, hips and, in boys, the testicles (testes). This examination is almost always carried out in hospital before you go home.

Our aim is to spot any problems early so treatment can be started as soon as possible or advisable. Usually though, nothing of concern is found, which then provides you with reasurance at what is a nervous time for any parent, especially new ones. If we do find a possible problem, we may refer your baby for more tests or arrange follow up.

Preferably, both parents should be there when the examination is done and I tend to explain what it involves and what I am doing. Some parts of the examination may be a little uncomfortable for your baby, but it won’t cause them any pain.

 

Follow on Checks

You will be offered another physical examination for your baby at about six to eight weeks, as some of the conditions it we look for can take a little while to develop. This is usually done within my clinic room. We’ll agree a schedule early, so you know exactly what to expect when.

 

Does my baby have to have Baby Checks?

They are not obligatory but they are strongly advised. In the UK, a handful of babies do not have them out of over 700,000 births per year and so that tells you something about how much importance is placed upon them. All paediatricians strongly recommend Baby Checks because of the enormous value to picking up easily addressed issues early. You won’t find a paediatrician who would not want baby checks for their own children!

 

When will you get the results?

I should be able to give you the outcome of the exmaination there and then. Sometimes, usually when we find something that needs following, we might need to conduct further tests or wait for a period of time for that aspect of the examination. I’ll be able to explain this clearly at the time and what the follow up plan is.

 

How are Baby Checks Done?

I will give your baby a thorough physical examination, whilst also asking you questions about how your baby is feeding, how alert they are, and about their general wellbeing. Your baby will need to be undressed for part of the examination.

During the examination, I will want to:

  • look into your baby’s eyes with a special torch called an ophthalmoscope to check how their eyes look and move
  • listen to your baby’s heart to check their heart sounds
  • examine their hips to check the joints
  • examine baby boys to see if their testicles are in the right place

 

What does the newborn physical examination check for?

The examination includes an overall physical check plus a number of specific different screening tests.

 

Eyes

I will check the appearance and movement of your baby’s eyes. I am looking for certain conditions like cataracts, a clouding of the transparent lens inside the eye, and other conditions.

About 2 or 3 in 10,000 babies are born with problems with their eyes that require treatment. The examination is not a test of how well your baby can see, purely a way of spotting complications or certain conditions.

 

Heart

I will examine your baby’s heart. I’ll do this by observing your baby, feeling your baby’s pulses, and listening to their heart with a stethoscope. Sometimes we find heart murmurs, where the heartbeat has an extra or unusual sound caused by a disturbed blood flow through the heart.

Heart murmurs are quite common in babies. The heart is normal in almost all cases where a murmur is heard but about 1 in 200 babies has a heart problem that needs treatment. If I find a heart murmur, I’ll want to follow up your baby to ensure that there is not a problem that requires treatment.

 

Hips

A few newborn babies have hip joints that are not formed properly, known as developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH). If this is left untreated, it can cause a limp or joint problems later on. About 1 or 2 in 1,000 babies have DDH that needs treating.

 

Testicles

Baby boys are checked to make sure their testicles are in the right place. During pregnancy, the testicles form inside the baby’s body. Sometimes they do not drop down into the scrotum until a few months after birth. In about 1 in 100 baby boys, the testicles descend only partially or not at all, which requires treating to prevent possible problems later in life, such as reduced fertility. If I find these issues, again I’ll want to follow up to ensure that everything happens in the way that it should or provide treatment as necessary.