Fascinating facts about newborn Infants

As much as taking care of sick newborn infants has been challenging and rewarding for a neonatologist; being part of the very journey of a newborn baby from birth to becoming and independent living being is amazing and fascinating.

The world of newborn babies is full of challenges but the mother nature ensures that the babies find their way through these challenges and adjusts their body and its requirements to survive in the world which is far different from the warm , cozy environment they had lived in for nine months.

Do you the journey through the birth canal is known to be one of the most challenging journeys of life.? The baby is If we have survived through it then we can survive any other journey right??

The First breath: A newborn infant announces its entry to the world immediately after birth with a cry and that’s what we all wait for. It signals the starting of baby’s breath to push air into the lungs and make them functional for air exchange. The cascade of events that follows in the next one minute determines if the newborn is going to sail through this journey smoothly or not. And that’s why we call it “FIRST GOLDEN MINUTE” of life .

Breast Crawl: The fetus in the mother’s womb receives all the nutrition from the mother vi umbilical cord. But as soon as the cord is cut after birth , the newborn has to now survive by feeding itself on mothers milk. And does he/ she know about it? Very much so. It has been found that once the baby is place on mother’s belly/ chest after birth he/ she has the natural tendency to crawl it’s way towards the mother’s breast , find the nipple and start sucking! And all this can happen immediately after birth in the first hour itself. That’s mother nature teaching the newborn infant to survive!

The neonatal reflexes: The newborn infants are born with the reflexes which help them to survive and thrive after birth. The most useful ones are rooting and sucking reflex. These help the baby the turn and open mouth towards the sense of touch ie of the breast and then suck at the nipple to get the milk from the breast. The plantar and palmar grasp reflex helps the to grasp at anything that touches the palms and soles as a protective action. Thank fully all these reflexes gradually are lost ..if not we wouldn’t be able to put our feet on the ground or hold a pen to write!!

The technique of temperature maintenance by heat generation is very unique to newborns and in young infants. The heat generating factory is located in various parts of the body like nape of the neck, in between the axillae, above adrenal gland etc. through the presence of something called as brown fat. This fat warms up the blood that passes though it when the baby becomes cold and this helps to keep the baby warm. The brown fat disappears aby 4-6 months once baby ‘s temperature regulation system matures to adult type.

But not all the babies are lucky to be born after comfortably completing nine months in the mother’s womb. Some are born too early, some struggle at the time of birth, some are born with some congenital problems, while some are too small!! Each of them poses extra challenges for their survival and makes their survival even more fascinating!

Dr Manisha Bhandankar
Professor , Department of Neonatology
JNMC, Belgaum

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