Advice on the health checks and examinations that are carried out on newborn babies shortly after birth, with information on Apgar scores and the Guthrie test.
Shortly after your baby is born a midwife or paediatrician will carry out several checks to ensure that they are healthy and do not need any specialist medical attention.
The Apgar check is carried out at both one and five minutes after birth. Its purpose is to check the immediate health of your baby and determine whether they are likely to need any help breathing.
Your baby's breathing, heartbeat, muscle tone, reflexes and appearance are each given a score of 0,1, or 2 and the Apgar score is then given as a number out of 10. In general, babies are considered to be healthy if their Apgar scores are above 7/10.
The length of your baby's body, their weight and the circumference of their head will also be measured shortly after birth - this information makes up the start of their childhood health record.
Within 24 hours of birth your baby will be given a full examination to check that he or she is completely healthy and doesn't need any medical attention. A midwife will listen to your baby's heart beat, check their hip joints and spine, examine their limbs, facial features and skin and test their reflexes.
This test is also known as the 'heel prick test' as it involves several drops of blood being taken from your baby's heel. This is then sent away to be analysed for signs of several rare conditions including PKU (phenylketonuria - an enzyme deficiency which prevents individuals from metabolising an amino acid called phenylanaline), Congenital Hypotheyroidism (deficiency of a hormone which influences growth), Cystic Fibrosis (a hereditary condition of the respiratory and digestive systems) and Sickle Cell Disease (which affects the ability of an individual's red blood cells to carry oxygen around their body).
The Guthrie test is usually carried out in the first week of your babies life.
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