Manitoba Daily

Friday, January 28, 2022

During a pandemic, there are more newborns seeking emergency care

During a pandemic, there are more newborns who need emergency care.

Key takeaways:

  • According to a Winnipeg paediatrician, the number of newborns requiring emergency care has increased, and she is concerned that the trend will continue in the coming weeks.

During the pandemic, a Winnipeg pediatrician says she’s seen an increase in newborns needing emergency care, and she’s concerned that the trend will continue in the coming weeks.

That’s because many of the issues babies are displaying — from jaundice to dehydration to poor feeding and weight loss — would have been flagged during an in-person visit in the first two weeks of their lives, according to Dr. Lynne Warda.

But, she said, because there are fewer face-to-face visits, common conditions often go unnoticed until they require hospitalization.

Warda told CBC Manitoba’s Information Radio host Marcy Markusa, “We’re particularly concerned right now with the rising cases and also heading into the holidays, where we know many offices are closing [or switching to] holiday hours.”

Also read: Manitoba may face new restrictions as early as next week

“Getting face-to-face visits for these newborns will be even more difficult.”

Warda, who works in the Health Sciences Centre’s children’s emergency department, said the children’s emergency department became eerily quiet early in the pandemic.

She claims that the number of babies seeking medical attention drops by 30% in the first two weeks of life.

“Part of the reason was that we assumed the families were afraid to come in because they didn’t want to get sick from COVID,” she explained.

However, staff in the department began to notice babies with jaundice, weight loss, and dehydration at much later ages than usual.

While all of these conditions are fairly common in newborns, Warda believes they weren’t being identified early enough for standard treatments, such as home phototherapy for cases of jaundice.

“And then the baby has to be admitted to the hospital,” she explained, “which is not what you want with a newborn.”

During a pandemic, there are more newborns who need emergency care.
During a pandemic, there are more newborns who need emergency care. Image from Parents

Still dealing with these problems.’

While emergency department visits for that age group have returned to a more normal level, Warda said that there are still higher admissions rates for certain conditions among newborns.

This year, jaundice cases have increased by nearly 40%, while visits for feeding difficulties and dehydration have increased by more than 20%.

“So we’re still dealing with these issues,” she explained, “and we believe it’s [due to] a lack of face-to-face care and families’ ability to get their babies weighed at Day 3 to 5 to catch those more significant weight loss [cases].”

Warda wants to encourage primary care providers such as pediatricians and family doctors to see newborns in their first days of life, even if it’s a hybrid visit conducted partly over the phone or virtually.

“They need to have a weight done,” she said, “especially the babies that we believe are at the highest risk for breastfeeding difficulties, weight loss, and dehydration.”

“A first-time mom breastfeeding, for example, is someone who needs a face-to-face assessment.”

Warda understands that taking in all of the information that new parents are bombarded with within hospitals can be overwhelming.

But parents need to be on the lookout for “red flags” when they bring their babies home — and to insist on face-to-face visits if they need them.

“You will have to fight for your visits. Over the next few weeks, getting in will be extremely difficult. Maintain contact with your primary care physician and public health nurse, “she stated

“Get all the help you can over the phone, and in the coming weeks, we’ll hopefully have more information about other options that might be able to help.”

Source: CBC News

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