Don’t be too shocked if hours after you give birth a syringe-wielding heath professional walks towards your baby. It is to be expected. Within the first day, the little infant shall have at least three shots – things that will aid in development and protect against illnesses.
The what: To begin with, the doctor will administer a dose of Hepatitis B vaccine, to protect the newborn from the highly contagious liver disease caused by the Hepatitis B virus, explains Dr Khairunnisa Mattummal, Specialist Paediatrician at UAE-based Aster Clinic.
- This virus could be passed on by any caregiver or even the mother, who may not know she has it, during birth.
- It also protects the caregivers, because if the child does contract it in some way and doesn’t display symptoms, they may pass it on to the adults around them.
- It prevents your child from developing liver disease and cancer from hepatitis B, adds US-based Centre for Disease Control.
The most common repercussions are:
- Low fever (less than 101 degrees)
- Sore arm from the shot.
The follow-up: The second dose is administered one or two months later and the third dose is given 6 to 18 months on.
The what: The Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) injection. This vaccine, explains Dr Mattummal, protects against the bacterial infection tuberculosis and helps build resistance against the disease in the newborn.
The why: “About 50 per cent of children born to mothers who have an active tuberculosis infection in their lungs develop the infection during the first year of life unless preventive antibiotics or BCG is given,” explains US-based reference website MSD Manual.
How it spreads: According to MSD Manual, infants become infected when they are exposed to Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which can happen in the following ways:
- Before birth: Infection occurs if the bacteria cross the placenta and infect the foetus.
- During birth: Infection occurs if the newborn breaths in or ingests infected fluid from the birth canal.
- After birth: Infection occurs if the newborn inhales infected droplets that have been coughed or sneezed into the air by family members or nursery personnel.
UK’s National Health Service explains on its website that most people develop a sore at the injection site. Once healed, the sore may leave a small scar. Other effects include:
- Soreness or discharge where the injection was given
- High temperature (fever)
- Swollen glands under the armpit in the arm where the injection was given
The what: Vitamin K shot is given with six hours after birth to prevent haemorrhagic disease, says Dr Anuradha Ajesh, Specialist – Paediatrics at Bareen International Hospital.
The why: Babies are born with very little vitamin K in their bodies. Dr Puneet Wadhwa, Specialist Paediatrician at Prime Hospital, explains: “Vitamin K is necessary for the body to form clots and stop bleeding. Without sufficient vitamin K, babies cannot make the substances utilised to create clots, called ‘clotting factors’.”
Vitamin K is necessary for the body to form clots and stop bleeding. Without sufficient vitamin K, babies cannot make the substances utilised to create clots, called ‘clotting factors’.
He adds that vitamin K does not cross the placenta within the womb and breast milk doesn’t contain enough vitamin K to make a difference in the child’s levels. A deficiency can cause bleeding in the intestine or in the brain, and can be life threatening. A child is at risk of suffering from a deficiency fallout up to their first six months of age.
CDC explains that at the site of the shot, a child may feel pain or see bruising or swelling.
A few cases of skin scarring at the site of injection have been reported. Only a single case of allergic reaction in an infant has been reported, so this is extremely rare, it adds.
Are any other medicines administered to babies in the first 24 hours?
Sometimes, says Dr Mattummal. “Doctors apply erythromycin eye ointment on the eyes of the newborns to protect the baby from serious eye infections such as neonatal conjunctivitis, or ophthalmia neonatorum. But this isn’t routinely applied unless there is a requirement,” she explains. Dr Ajesh adds that this application occurs within the first hour of birth.
Doctors apply erythromycin eye ointment on the eyes of the newborns to protect the baby from serious eye infections.
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