Difficulties related to the birth process, the transition to extra uterine life, or congenital anomalies might require intervention by healthcare personnel. Respiratory difficulties might occur, especially if drugs given to the mother during labor and delivery have sedated the neonate. Premature neonates are vulnerable to respiratory distress syndrome because of the relative immature lung function.
Neonates delivered by cesarean section are at risk for respiratory difficulties because of excess mucus in the lungs and might require frequent suctioning. Incompatibility between the neonate and mother’s blood groups requires prompt care at birth. To avoid congenital malformations mothers should take prenatal vitamins because malformations, such as cleft palate and cleft lip, or neural tube defects such as spina bifida and hydrocephalus, might result in long-term health problems. Birth traumas that cause temporary symptoms are of concern because the parents need to be reassured that the symptoms will disappear. Examples include caput succedaneum localized edema of the scalp, molding elongation of the skull as the baby passes through the birth canal, and subconjunctival hemorrhage.
The no threatening nature of physiologic jaundice, which commonly occurs in the neonate’s first days, should also be explained to the parents. Neonates born to mothers, who smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol, or use drugs are at risk for developmental deficits as complications during birth. Smoking during pregnancy might cause low birth weight. Fetal alcohol syndrome caused by maternal drinking is believed to be a leading cause of birth defects, including growth retardation, developmental delay, and impaired intellectual ability.