6.2  Screening the newborn for general danger signs

During the first home visit, the most important task is to screen all newborn babies for the presence of general danger signs in newborns (Box 6.1). These were already briefly listed in Study Session 1. Remember always to be vigilant, observant and gentle while assessing and managing a newborn baby, especially during the first few days of life. And always be alert to the potential presence of the key danger signs during the whole of the time you are with the mother and newborn.

Feeding problems are covered in detail in Study Session 7.

Box 6.1  General danger signs in newborns

  • History of difficulty feeding, or unable to feed now; ask the mother about the baby’s feeding pattern.
  • History of convulsion, or convulsing now; ask the mother, has the baby had any fits?
  • Newborn seems lethargic or unconscious.
  • Movement only when stimulated.
  • Fast breathing.
  • Severe lower chest in-drawing.
  • Fever.
  • Hypothermia (baby is cold to the touch).
  • Baby developed yellowish discoloration before 24 hours of age; jaundice observed on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet.
  • There is swelling of the eyes or eye discharge.
  • Umbilicus is draining pus.
  • More than 10 pustules (spots) are found on the skin.

6.1  Your first actions before assessing a newborn

6.2.1  How can you recognise a convulsion in a newborn?