High-Risk Newborn: A Complete Guide


High-risk newborns are infants born with conditions or health issues that require specialised medical care and attention. These newborns may face a variety of challenges, from premature birth to physical disabilities and congenital disorders. With the right care and treatment, however, high-risk newborns can have a positive prognosis for long-term health. Specialised healthcare professionals are trained to provide the best possible outcomes for these delicate babies.

What is a high-risk newborn?

High-risk newborns are infants who are born with increased medical, developmental, or behavioural risks that require special attention and care. These risks may be related to prematurity, low birth weight, structural malformations, maternal health problems or infections during pregnancy, or underlying genetic conditions. The care of a high-risk newborn may involve additional medical services such as neonatal intensive care units and specialised treatments like respiratory support. Additionally, psychological support for the parents is often recommended.

What are the causes behind a high-risk newborn?

  • High-risk newborns can be caused by various factors.
  • Preterm delivery is a common cause of high-risk newborns.
  • Maternal health conditions such as diabetes or hypertension can also lead to high-risk newborns.
  • Congenital anomalies are another factor that may contribute to high-risk newborns.
  • Infections acquired during labour and delivery can also cause a newborn to be high-risk.
  • Low birth weight is another factor that can lead to high-risk newborns.
  • Exposure to toxins in the environment and poverty may also be underlying causes of high-risk newborns.
  • Limited access to healthcare services and advanced maternal age can also increase the risk of a high-risk newborn.
  • Racial disparities have also been found to increase the odds of a high-risk newborn.

What symptoms does a high-risk newborn exhibit?

High-risk newborns can display a variety of symptoms, including:

  • Poor breathing
  • Inability to suck feed
  • Low blood sugar
  • Jaundice
  • inability to maintain body temperature
  • Seizures and/or difficulty regulating heart rate (in some cases)
  • smaller than average size
  • Weak muscle tone

As these babies continue to grow, they may develop chronic health issues such as:

  • Asthma
  • Digestive problems.

When should one see a doctor for a high-risk newborn?

It is important to seek medical advice immediately if a newborn has any of the following warning signs: difficulty breathing, an unusual cry or grunting sound, pale or bluish skin colour, fever, jaundice, poor feeding habits, slow weight gain, frequent infection, or irritability. It is also recommended to contact a doctor if the baby exhibits any physical deformities or birth defects. Additionally, if a newborn's mother had gestational diabetes or high blood pressure during pregnancy, these conditions may increase the risk of certain health problems in the baby and should be monitored closely by a doctor.

What are the risk factors for a high-risk newborn?

The risk factors for a high-risk newborn include:

  • Prematurity (birth before 37 weeks of gestation)
  • Low birth weight (less than 5 lbs. 8 oz.)
  • Congenital abnormalities (structural defects present at birth)
  • Intrauterine growth restriction (slowed growth rate while in utero)
  • Infections (which can cause brain damage, pneumonia, and other serious conditions)
  • Complications during labour or delivery (which can lead to oxygen deprivation, jaundice, and other problems at birth


The high-risk newborn procedure involves a team of medical professionals working together to assess the health of the baby and the mother, identify any risks or issues that may arise during or after delivery, and monitor both the mother's and the baby's health until the baby is safely delivered. This comprehensive approach helps ensure that both mother and baby have the best possible outcome with minimal risk factors. Through this collaborative effort between obstetricians, neonatologists, primary care providers, and other specialists, high-risk newborns can be safely welcomed into our world.

Request an appointment at Apollo Cradle, DELHI-NCR - Chirag Enclave. Call 1860-500-1066 to book an appointment.

1. Are all neonatal complications considered high-risk?

Not all neonatal complications are considered high-risk. Some complications may be treatable with minimal interventions, while others may require more intensive care and monitoring to ensure the best outcome for the baby.

2. What kind of care do high-risk newborns need?

High-risk newborns generally require close monitoring and specialised medical care from experienced professionals to ensure their safety and well-being. This often includes additional testing, medication management, nutrition guidance, and developmental support.

3. How can parents prepare for caring for a high-risk newborn?

Parents can prepare for caring for a high-risk newborn by researching the specific medical condition their baby has and becoming familiar with possible treatments and resources available. They should also seek out emotional support from family members and friends, as well as professional counsellors if needed.

4. Can high-risk newborns be prevented?

While some risk factors for high-risk newborns cannot be prevented, such as congenital abnormalities, other factors such as infections and complications during labour or delivery may be preventable through proper prenatal care and medical interventions.

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