Causes, Risks, and Precautions for High-Risk Newborns

Meaning of the term "high-risk" newborn

A high-risk newborn refers to a group of newborns at high risk of developing severe acute diseases. The doctors who treat these infants are neonatologists. A special section called the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) is dedicated to these little ones. Preterm newborns need attention, as their growth may be hampered even after a safe birth.

What do the statistics say?

As per UNICEF, about 25 million children are born annually in India. Out of these, approximately 3.5 million babies are born too early. 1.7 million children suffer from congenital disabilities. However, proper care and a healthy pregnancy can avoid these unexpected issues.

Why do high-risk births occur?

Many factors can put you at high risk for an unhealthy pregnancy and complications during the infant's birth. Sometimes, it is due to a medical condition before the pregnancy. In some cases, it is due to a medical condition that develops during pregnancy.

Some other specific factors include:

  • Maternal health problems: If the mother suffers from disorders like obesity, thyroid disease, high blood pressure, blood disorders, infections, and ill-controlled asthma, the infant can be at increased risk of complications during birth.
  • Multiple pregnancies: There is a higher chance of complications in pregnancy for women carrying more than one foetus.
  • Lifestyle choices: Habits like smoking, drinking, and recreational drug use can increase the chances of a high-risk birth for a newborn.
  • Pregnancy history: Some mothers may suffer from hypertension or diabetes. This can increase the likelihood of a similar diagnosis for the newborn.
  • Maternal age: Sometimes, the risk of pregnancy can occur if the mother conceives after age 35.

How can high-risk births be controlled?

If you are ready to welcome a little one, we are here to help you take the necessary measures. With the following steps, you can reduce the chances of a high-risk pregnancy:

  • Try to maintain a healthy weight before your pregnancy. 
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs.
  • Quit smoking. 
  • Plan a pregnancy between the ages of 18 and 34.
  • Practice safe sex.
  • Manage any preexisting condition that may aggravate during the pregnancy. 

What are the common conditions in a high-risk newborn?

The most common conditions and complications that occur in a high-risk newborn are:

  • Premature birth: In this condition, the baby does not complete his full term inside the womb and has to be delivered earlier, which may require external treatment to complete the development of all organs.
  • Low birth weight: Babies with a weight of 2.5 kg and above are considered healthy. Typically, a weight below this at birth can cause complications.
  • Small or large for gestational age: As the babies grow, keeping track of their weight is essential. If they weigh less than babies of their age, it can create complications. Similar issues occur in the case of being overweight at the time of birth.
  • Respiratory disorders: High-risk newborns suffer from respiratory distress syndrome, chronic pulmonary disease, pneumothorax, and meconium aspiration.

What is the best course of action for a high-risk newborn?

While certain complications may need specific treatment, here are some common tips for parents who have brought home a baby born under high-risk conditions:

  • Get involved and ask as many questions as possible. Even if your infant is in the neonatal intensive care unit, it is best to ask the medical staff as many questions as you may have. This will make the transition smooth, and you can take care of them when they come home.
  • Participate in a support group. Sometimes, a new birth can be overwhelming and worrisome when your child suffers from birth complications.
  • Be aware of common chronic medical complications: Infants with a high-risk birth have a higher chance of developing apnea, where breathing gets interrupted. Acid reflux is another common condition among such babies. Monitor these specific conditions regularly so you can prevent any complications.
  • Keep an eye out for infections. High-risk infants have a higher chance of being prone to infections because their immune systems are not strong enough. Simple precautions like avoiding crowded places, keeping toys dust-free, and disinfecting your hands will help keep your baby safe from infections.
  • Ensure the correct sleeping position for your little one: This is a lesser-known fact, but it is essential to ensure that your baby sleeps on their back. Lying on their stomachs may increase the chances of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).


It is best to consult medical experts who are aware of your medical history and can take care of high-risk newborns. There are support groups, and doctors who guide you in the care of a vulnerable child. With heightened awareness of the child's health and preparedness to take necessary actions will help prepare you to take care of your child and ensure a healthy life for your little one.

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

1. What are the problems in high-risk infants?

High-risk infants can suffer from several problems, including infections, genetics, congenital issues, and prematurity.

2. How do you take care of a high-risk newborn?

You need to follow up with your medical advisor regularly, keep an eye out for infections, be wary of any chronic conditions, and let the baby sleep on his back.

3. Which is the special care unit for high-risk newborns in hospitals?

The special unit is known as the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in hospitals.

4. What are some common lung infections in high-risk newborns?

Bronchitis and pneumonia are two common lung infections in high-risk newborns.

5. What do premature and postmature mean?

Premature births occur when the complete time of foetal development is not complete, while postmature refers to complications that occur due to extended time in the womb.

Book an Appointment




Pregnancy Calculator