What are the signs of infant health problems?

If you suspect the infant in your care may be ill, you may notice many different symptoms. Typically, the most common infant symptom is crying. A certain amount of crying in infants and young children is, of course, perfectly normal. Crying is an infant’s form of verbal communication and a normal response to being hungry, thirsty, tired, or uncomfortably positioned; general discomfort (especially with a full diaper); and even being lonely, bored or scared. Discomfort can also come from an environment that is too hot or cold, too bright or noisy, or too smoky.

Baby's Condition Spotlight

If you have addressed all of these possibilities and the infant is still crying, or if the crying is different from normal, it may be caused by pain or discomfort from teething, colic, the common cold, a sore or scratchy throat, an ear infection, diaper rash, constipation, stomach ache, or gas. In addition, unusual, increased or persistent crying that cannot be comforted or relieved may indicate a more serious disorder or infection, such as a urinary tract infection. Infants are highly susceptible to some serious disorders because of their young immune systems and limited vaccinations. Always investigate an infant’s unusual cry.

Other infant symptoms to look for can include: urinary or bowel movement changes; arching back with knees drawn up to the chest (common with colic and possibly indicating pain in the abdomen); fever; refusal of bottle or breast; screaming; swollen abdomen; foul-smelling urine; lethargy; all-over rash (not just diaper rash); and stomach upset.

Some infant symptoms may indicate a life-threatening condition that should be immediately evaluated in an emergency setting. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if the infant has any of these life-threatening symptoms, including difficulty breathing; fever; lethargy; rash with a fever; screaming uncontrollably; persistent vomiting; a weak, feeble cry; bloody stools; swelling of the fingers, toes or penis; evidence of injury or trauma; or signs of suspected abuse or neglect.

If your infant’s symptoms are persistent or cause you concern, seek prompt medical care.

SYMPTOMS

What other symptoms might occur with infant symptoms?

Common infant symptoms may accompany other less frequently seen symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Symptoms may involve multiple body systems.... Read more about infant symptomssymptoms

CAUSES

What causes infant symptoms?

Common causes of the most frequent symptoms seen in infants include infections, gas, emotional distress, and the common cold.... Read more about infant symptomscauses

Medical Reviewer: All content has been reviewed by board-certified physicians under the direction of Rich Klasco, M.D., FACEP. Last Annual Review Date: May 2, 2011 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

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