High-Risk Newborns

High-risk newborns are infants who have a greater chance of requiring medical interventions and experiencing health complications due to prematurity, genetic anomalies, or infections. These infants require specialised care to give them the best chance of survival, and families need to be aware of the risks that their infants may face. This article will explore what high-risk newborns look like and how families can prepare for their arrival. With the right support and expertise, these babies can overcome any challenges they may face.

What are high-risk newborns and infants?

A high-risk newborn is a baby born before 37 completed weeks of gestation, weighing less than 2.5 kilos, or having health issues that require special medical treatment and monitoring. These infants usually require care in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and may be at greater risk of developing disabilities or other health problems. The earlier the birth and the lower the weight, the greater the risk of complications for high-risk newborns.

What are the causes of giving birth to high-risk newborns?

Causes for sick and high-risk newborns include:

  1. Infections
  2. Hypoxia
  3. Hypoglycaemia
  4. Hypothermia
  5. Acute blood loss
  6. Anaemia
  7. Trauma (bodily and psychological)
  8. Intraventricular Haemorrhage
  9. Marked Hyperbilirubinaemia

For conditions specific to your pregnancy and baby, please consult with your baby's healthcare providers and doctors.

What symptoms does a high-risk newborn exhibit?

  • High-risk newborns can have a range of symptoms.
  • Symptoms can include low birth weight, difficulty breathing, cyanosis, jaundice, feeding problems, and slow growth
  • They may display signs of hypoglycemia or an infection such as sepsis
  • Other signs to look out for include a weak heart rate and poor muscle tone
  • High-risk newborns may also experience apnea (episodes where breathing briefly stops), bradycardia (slow heart rate), or seizures

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

It is important to consult a doctor if a newborn has any visible physical, medical, or behavioural issues, such as jaundice, low birth weight, congenital anomalies, breathing difficulties, or poor feeding. Parents should also contact their doctor if they have any concerns about the baby's development and health. This includes persistent crying or irritability, signs of infection, or failure to gain weight. It is best to see a paediatrician for an evaluation as soon as possible. Early intervention can help to identify and manage any long-term risks associated with the high-risk newborn.

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

The risk factors for high-risk newborns are:

  • Premature birth: Babies born before 37 weeks of gestation are at a higher risk of developing health complications.
  • Low birth weight: Babies born weighing less than 5.5 pounds are considered to have a low birth weight and are at a higher risk of developing health complications.
  • Congenital abnormalities: Birth defects or genetic conditions can increase the risk of complications and the need for medical intervention.
  • Mother's age and health status: Older mothers, as well as those with preexisting health conditions, are at a higher risk of having a high-risk newborn.
  • Socioeconomic status and access to healthcare: Mothers from disadvantaged backgrounds or with limited access to healthcare may be at a higher risk of having a high-risk newborn.
  • Substance abuse during pregnancy: Mothers who use drugs or alcohol during pregnancy can increase the risk of complications for their newborns.
  • Infection and maternal illness during pregnancy: Infections and maternal illnesses can affect the health of the baby and increase the risk of complications.


This high-risk newborn procedure or test is an important one, as it can provide information about the health of a newborn that may not be evident otherwise. Parents need to understand the options and potential risks associated with this testing so they can make an informed decision. Ultimately, knowing the health of your newborn is paramount, and this test can be a valuable tool in providing that peace of mind.

Request an appointment at Apollo Cradle, Hyderabad - Jubilee Hills. Call 1860-500-1066 to book an appointment.

1. What type of medical care do high-risk newborns require?

High-risk newborns typically require specialised medical care, such as monitoring in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), specialised nutritional support, and medications to treat any underlying conditions.

2. How can parents best prepare for the birth of a high-risk baby?

Parents should be aware of the risks associated with their baby’s specific health condition and what steps need to be taken if their baby is born prematurely or has other complications. They should also familiarise themselves with the neonatal intensive care unit, where their baby may be admitted after delivery.

3. Are there any long-term effects associated with having a high-risk newborn?

Depending on the severity of any complications at birth, some high-risk babies may experience long-term effects such as chronic health issues, developmental delays, and learning disabilities.

4. What steps can parents take to reduce their baby's risk of developing complications from being born at high risk?

Parents can reduce the risk of their baby developing complications from being born at high risk by ensuring they are receiving proper prenatal care, monitoring for signs of infection or distress during delivery, and carefully controlling any medical treatments that may be needed after birth.

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