June 9, 2011

new to the world

after spending yesterday in the pediatric cardiology clinic, seeing babies and children who had lots of different heart problems, today I spent the morning in the newborn nursery, doing exams on all the new babies that had been born in the past 24-48 hours and didn't have any serious problem that would take them to the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit).

it was pretty spectacular, not only because there is some part of us human adults that is clearly evolutionarily programmed to respond to a totally helpless newborn baby - otherwise they'd never make it. I bet this response can be even bigger if it's your own child. having done quite a few now, I think the best parts of the newborn exam are:
1) testing the sucking reflex - babies respond by sucking if you stick your little finger in their mouth, this also makes them quiet down and relax a little, so it's one of the first parts of the exam
2) testing the moro or "startle" reflex - which is when you have the baby on it's back, and you lift its upper body up by its arms just a few inches then drop it back onto the mattress, and the baby waves its arms and legs excitedly.
3) telling the mom (and dad or grandma or big sister) that the baby looks great!

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