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it contains information about the important measurements , the vital signs, head, eyes, ears, nose , mouth and throat, neck, chest, breast and abdomen of a newborn. You'll find the normal and the abnormal findings on each category.
Normal measurement: 33 to 35 cm (13 to 14
inches). In vaginal delivery, molding may
reduce head circumference (HC)
immediately after birth but it will return to
normal size after two to three days. The HC
is actually the occipitofrontal circumference
Comparison to other measurements:
It is approximately equal to crown-rump length (CRL)
or sitting height which is about 31 to 35 cm in term
infants. The relationship of HC to CRL is more reliable
in identifying in high risk infants than that of the
head and chest.
The HC is usually greater than chest circumference
(CC) by 2 cm.
The head is one fourth of the total body length; this
is because the head of the newborn is
proportionately larger than the head of the adult
During the first four months, HC increases by
half an inch a month and in the next 8 months,
by one fourth inch a month.
Measure HC at the level of eyebrows to the most
prominent portion of the infant’s head with the
use of a tape measure. Measure it after birth,
then after 48 hours because molding and caput
succedaneum may misshape the head making
the first measurement inaccurate.
Take note of the following changes in the head
At birth HC may be equal or greater than CC
due to molding.
After 2 to 3 days, HC is greater than CC by 2
to 3 cm.
After six months, HC is equal to CC.
After 1 year, HC is less than CC.
. Abnormal findings:
HC less than 32 cm is indicative of
microcephaly in term infants.
HC that is 4 cm and greater than CC or
more than 37 cm is indicative of
neurologic involvement such as
Normal CC range from 30.5 to 33 (12 to 13
inches), usually 2 cm less than HC.
The CC is measured at the level of the
nipple using a tape measure.
A CC less than 30 cm indicates prematurity.
An enlarged heart may make the left side of
the chest larger.
Abdominal circumference (AC) is
approximately the same as chest
It is measured just above the level of the
umbilicus. It is no longer recommended to
measure AC below the level of the umbilicus
because a full bladder may interfere with
AC is not routinely measured unless there is
a suspicion of abdominal distention due to
obstruction in the gastrointestinal tract. The
neonate’s abdomen usually enlarges after a
feeding due to lax abdominal muscle.
Birth weight of full term newborn infants range from
6 to 8.5 lbs. or 2700 to 4000 g. Average is 3500 g.
Birth weight should be recorded immediately after
birth because weight loss occurs rapidly in newborns.
The average female infant birth weight is around 7
lbs. while that of male infant is around 7.5 lbs. Boys is
usually heavier than girls by 100 g or 3 ounces. The
average birth weight of Filpino infants is 3000 grams.
Physiological Weight Loss – Newborns loss
about 10% (6 to 10 oz) of their birth weight
during the first 3 to 4 days of life due to:
Excretion of fluids through the lungs, urinary
bladder and bowels
Passage of meconium
Withholding of calories and fluids
immediately after birth
Minimal food intake because sucking is not
yet established and colostrum contains less
calories than mature milk
Generally, breastfeed infants regain their birth
weight within 10 days and formula fed infants
within 7 days.
Birth weight doubles at 5-6 months and
triples at one year. By 2 years of age, expected
weight gain is four times the birth weight.
Infants generally gain approximately 20 to 25
grams per day or 150 to 210 g weekly during the
first five months of life. And about 15 grams (6
to 8 oz weekly) from 6 months to 1 year.
Keep in mind the following changes in weight
of different ages:
5-6 months --- 2X birth weight
1 year --- 3X birth weight
2 years --- 4X birth weight
3 years --- 5X birth weight
5 years --- 6X birth weight
7 years --- 7X birth weight
10 years --- 10X birth weight
Computation of Expected Weight Gain:
Term infants = (age in days – 10) X 20 + 3000
10 – Term infants takes 10 days to regain birth
20 – A weight gain of 20 grams/day is expected
during the first 5 months
Computation of Expected Weight Gain:
Pre-term infants = (age in days – 14) X 15
14 – Pre-term infants takes 14 days to regain their
15 – Amount of weight gain each day
Computation of Expected Weight Gain:
infants below 6 months old:
Weight in grams = age in months X 600 + birth
6 months to 12 months:
Expected weight in pounds = Age in months + 10
Weight in grams = Age in months X 500 + birth
Computation of Expected Weight Gain:
1-6 years: weight in kg = age in years X 2 + 8
6-12 years: weight in kg = age in years X 7 – 5
When assessing birth weight, remember that:
a.Birth weight is affected by race, nutrition,
intrauterine conditions and genetic factors.
b.Birth weight increases with each succeeding
child in the family.
c.Plotting birth weight in a neonatal graph helps
to identify newborns at risk because of their
small or too large size.
d. Weight should be compared with height and
head circumference to see any disproportion that
indicates risk conditions. For example, a child’s
head circumference may be too large for his
birth weight and height causing the caregiver to
suspect for possible hydrocephalus.
e. The infant should be weighed not wearing a
diaper. If a diaper is in place, subtract the weight
of the diaper from the total weight.
f. The same weighing scale should be used every
time the infant’s weight is measured to prevent
g. If the infant is being weighed on a bed that has a
It is important to remove any extra sheets, toys or
When weighing the critically ill neonate, lift the
intravenous infusion lines, as well as other pieces
of equipment such as ventilator tubing, so they do
not cause an inaccurately high weight
Birth weight less than 1000 grams for term
infants is considered extremely low birth
Birth weight less than 1500 grams in term
infants is considered very low birth weight
Birth weight less than 2500 grams for term
infant is called Small for Gestational Age
(SGA) infant in term infants.
Birth weight more than 4000 grams is known
as Large for Gestational Age (LGA) infant.
Infant may be born of a diabetic mother.
Weight loss of more than 10% of birth
CONVERTING grams to pounds and ounces:
1 lb. = 453.59237 grams
1 oz. = 28.349523 grams
1000 g = 1 kg
1.Newborn average head to heel length is 45 to 55 cm
(18 to 22 inches)
2.Average is 50 cm.
3.Female infants generally are 1/2 inch shorter than
male infants. The average length of boys is 20
inches or 50 cm and girls, 19.6 inches or 49 cm.
4.The height or length of the newborn increases by
2.5 cm or 1 inch a month from 1 to 5 months and
1.25 cm from 6 months to 1 year.
Remember that similar to weight, the rate of
growth diminishes as the infant grows older.
Total average increase in length during the first
year of life is 25 cm distributed as follows:
From birth to 3 months – 9 cm
From 3 to 6 months – 8 cm
From 6 to 9 months – 5 cm
From 9 to 12 months – 3 cm
Formula for expected height:
Height in cm = age in years X 5 + 80
Height in inches = age in years X 2 + 32
Height in inches = age in years X 2 ½ + 30
At 1 year – 30 inches of 1 ½ birth length
2 years – ½ of mature height in boys
3 years – 3 feet tall
4 years – 40 inches or 2X birth length
13 years – 3X birth length
Measure newborn length from top of the head to
heel using a tape measure. Extending the
neonate’s leg to its fullest extension and then
recording the length from crown of head to heel
is the most accurate way to measure length. One
person should hold the infant’s in place while
the other completes the measurements.
An adjunct to crown-heel measurement is the
crown-rump measurement. This particular
assessment is useful in determining anatomical
abnormalities such as dwarfism.
A length of less than 47 cm is a sign of
It is recommended that the newborn vital signs
On admission to the nursery
Every 30 minutes until the condition of the
newborn is stable for at least two hours
Every eight hours until discharged
Characteristics of Newborn Temperature
1.Heat regulation is the second most important task a
newborn must achieve after birth. Heat regulation is
achieve by maintaining a balance between heat loss and
2.The average newborn temperature at birth is around
37.2ºC. It is not unusual for the temperature to fluctuate
during the first few hours after birth due to immature
temperature regulating mechanism but it should
stabilize within 10 hours. If chilling is prevented,
newborn temperature stabilizes within 4 hours after
3. The average newborn axillary temperature –
average 37ºC. Rectal temperature is 0.2 to 0.8ºC
4. Heat loss in newborns occur in four ways:
Convection – the flow of heat from body surface
to the cooler surrounding air. Air conditioner and
drafts cause heat loss by convection so keep
newborn warm by wrapping her in warm blanket
and by maintaining nursery ambient temperature at
24ºC or 75ºF.
Radiation – transfer of heat to cooler objects or
surfaces not in contact with the body. Cold window
surfaces or examining tables although not in contact
with the newborn but located near the newborn creates
heat loss by radiation. This type of heat loss can be
prevented by moving the newborn away from cold
Evaporation – loss of heat due to conversion of
liquid to vapor. Wet newborns loss a great amount of
heat when the amniotic fluid in their skin evaporates.
Wipe newborn dry immediately to prevent heat loss
Conduction – loss of heat by way of cooler
surfaces in contact with the body. This occurs
when newborn is placed on a cold crib, weight
scale or counter.
Newborns loss heat easily because:
a.They have immature temperature regulating
system. In fact, they are not capable of shivering
(employed by adults to increase metabolic rate to
be able to produce more heat).
b.Of very little amount of subcutaneous fat to
provide heat in their body.
c.They have a larger body surface area that results in
more heat loss. Newborn loss heat four times than
the adult for this reason.
a. They have little ability to conserve heat by changing posture
and no ability to adjust own clothing in response to thermal
b. They tend to take on the temperature of their environment;
this means that newborns can become hypothermic or
hyperthermic easily depending on the temperature of the
environment. For example, exposure to cold environment
can cause cold stress (hypothermia) which can lead to
metabolic acidosis, this can be lethal even to normal
newborn infants. The neonate increases metabolic rate to
produce heat when exposed to cold. This requires oxygen
and glucose. Too much cold exposure depletes oxygen and
glucose in the body resulting in acidosis and hypoglycemia.
Newborns can conserve heat by:
a.Constricting blood vessels
b.Moving blood away from the skin
c.Burning brown fat which is most abundant in
the intrascapsular region, thorax and perineal
Newborn produced heat by:
a.Increasing muscular activity such as by
kicking and crying which also increases
metabolic rate and respiratory rate. Immature
newborn with poor lung development may not
be able to use this mechanism of heat
a.Burning brown fat – present only in newborns,
begins to form at 17 weeks of gestation, the
less mature the infant the less brown fat.
c. Increasing metabolic rate which consequently
increases the need for oxygen. Inability to meet
this increased oxygen requirement could lead to
hypoxemia (decreased amount of oxygen in the
blood) because oxygen is being utilized for heat
production. The shivering mechanism in infant
Baby’s temperature can be assessed with reasonable
precision by touching with dorsum of hand over the
abdomen, hands and feet.
In newborn, abdominal temperature is representative of
the core temperature.
When feet are cold and abdomen is warm, it indicates that
baby is in cold stress.
In hypothermia, both feet and abdomen are cold to touch
(Taken from: Essential Newborn Nursing for Small Hospitals Learner’s Guide, WHO
Collaborating Centre for Training and Research in Newborn Care, All India Institute of
Medical Sciences, New Delhi, 2004)
Method of Temperature Assessment
1.The method of choice when obtaining the
temperature of the children below 6 years old
is the axillary because it is safer, more
accessible and convenient. Place the
thermometer in the axilla for 5 minutes and
hold the hands over the abdomen to keep the
thermometer in place.
2. In the past the initial temperature of the newborn
is taken rectally to assess patency of the anus at the
same time. Nowadays, waiting for the passage of
meconium within the first 24 hours after birth is the
preferable method of assessing anal patency.
3. The glass mercury thermometer is still considered
as the gold standard in taking the newborn
temperature. It should be placed5 minutes when
taking axillary temperature and for 3 minutes when
taking rectal temperature.
4. When taking newborn temperature, it is
important to remember that radiant warmer may
falsely increase axillary temperature and crying
may slightly increase body temperature.
1.Transient fever on the 2nd to 4th day usually
occur secondary to fluid loss and poor intake
of milk because of inability to suck well.
2.This is characterized by sunken fontanel, dry
skin and decreased urinary output. The infant
recovers from this fever once fluid intake is
increased and feeding is established.
1.Hypothermia occurs when the body temp. drops
below 36.5 ºC. The newborn infant is most
sensitive to hypothermia during the stabilization
period in the first 6-12 hours after birth.
2.Effects of hypothermia:
Acidosis – increased metabolic rate results in
increased production of carbon dioxide and
metabolic waste products results in acidosis.
Hypoxemia – oxygen is utilized for increase
metabolism in order to produce more heat instead of
being used for oxygenation of cells and tissues.
Hypoglycemia – increased metabolic rate increase
glucose utilization resulting in depletion of glucose
stores and lowering blood glucose levels.
Water is used to lower body temperature but in an
effort of the body to prevent heat loss, there occurs
renal excretion of water and solute to prevent more
heat loss thus depleting fluid stores in the body and
altering the fluid and electrolyte balance.
3. Important immediate interventions for
Inform the doctor immediately
Remove the wet cloth
Place the baby under the heat source
Start oxygen administration if the baby has
respiratory distress or cyanosis
Due to risk of burning the neonate, avoid using
hot water bottle for (re)warming the baby.
Hypothermia and hyperthermia (above 37.5ºC)
can be both sign of sepsis. If the newborn has
been in a stable temperature environment with
fairly constant temperature readings but begins
to have fluctuating temperature readings (low,
high or both), inform the doctor for evaluation.
1.The newborn is also at risk of hyperthermia
which is a temperature above 37.5ºC.
Although not as common as hypothermia,
hyperthermia can be as equally dangerous.
2.Common causes of hyperthermia:
Too hot external environment
Too many covers or clothes on baby
Signs and Symptoms of hyperthermia:
Abdomen and extremities are very warm to
Red flushed skin
Hot and dry skin
Stupor, coma, convulsion for temp above 41ºC
Interventions for hyperthermia:
Place the newborn in a cool environment (25
to 28ºC), and keep away from sources of heat
such as direct sunlight
Undress the newborn partially or fully, if
Give frequent breastfeeds.
Measure the newborn’s axillary temp every
hour until it is in normal range.
If the body temp is very high (>39ºC), sponge
the baby with tap water. Do not use cold or ice
water for sponge
If the newborn has been under the radiant
warmer reduce the temp setting until temp
Examine the infant for infection
Characteristics of Newborn Respiration:
1.Range from 30 to 60 breaths per minute
2.Respiratory Rate (RR) slows down during the
3.The respiratory environment is abdominal or
diaphragmatic in nature, the chest and abdomen
should rise at the same time, and this is carried on
during the infancy period.
1.Periodic respiration – With short periods of
apnea, should not be longer than15 seconds
and not accompanied by cyanosis
2.Loud and clear upon auscultation
3.Respiration is irregular and shallow
4.RR increases with sensory and tactile
1.Newborns are obligate nose breathers. Unlike
the adult, the newborn does not open his
mouth to breath through it when the nose is
obstructed. Keep nose clean and patent.
2.Infant is more at risk to develop infection than
the adult because:
Inability to produce IgA in the mucosal lining
Short and straight eustachian tube can easily
transmit infection from the pharynx to the
Closeness of the trachea to bronchi and its
branching structures can easily transmit
Signs of Respiratory Distress:
2.Chest retraction, indrawing of the chest when
3.See-saw respiration – indrawing of the chest
and rising of the abdomen during inspiration.
1.Cyanosis other than the hands and feet. Cyanosis
of the hands and feet should disappear when the
infant cries. If the infant turns blue while crying,
this is abnormal.
2.Respiratory grunting – noisy respiration
3.More than 50 (tachypnea) and less than 30
(bradypnea) breaths per minute. Anaesthetics and
analgesics given to the mother during labor tend to
slow down respiration of the newborn because of
their depressant effect.
1.Adventitious Chest Sounds in newborns:
Rhonchi – a coarse snoring sound caused by air
passing through mucus in a major air passage, this is
usually normal during the first 24 to 48 hours in a
Rales – crackling sound caused by air passing through
the fluid filled alveoli. It may be a manifestation of
unabsorbed lung fluid and pneumonia
Stridor – a high crowing sound (rooster-like) heard on
inspiration caused by narrowing of the air passages. It
may be a sign of beginning obstruction.
Wheezing – a whistling sound heard on inspiration
caused by air being pushed through narrowed
bronchioles. May be a sign of obstruction.
Grunting – a grunt heard on inspiration caused by
air pushed through a partially closed glottis. May
be a sign of respiratory distress syndrome.
Absent/diminished breath sounds occur when air is
not entering a lung or lobe of a lung on one side.
May be a sign of atelectasis.
1.Full term infants have heart rate that ranges from
120 to 150 bpm approx. the same as FHR. It may go
down as slow as 80 bpm when infant is asleep and
may go up to as high as 160 bpm when he is
vigorously crying. It slows down during infancy
2. Rhythm is char. as sinus arrhythmia, rate increasing
with inspiration and decreasing when expiration.
3. Newborn heartbeat is often irregular
and heart murmurs may be heard until 6
months of age.
4. Take apical pulse and respiratory rate
first while he is asleep to obtain accurate
results. Take temp last as the infant may
struggle with the placement of
thermometer in the axilla.
1.BP at birth is approx. 80/40 mmHg rising to 100/50
mmHg by the 10th day of life. In the 1st week of life,
BP may be slightly higher in lower extremities than
2.Pulse pressure is obtained by subtracting the
diastolic pressure to the systolic pressure. For the
term infant a wide PP is 25-30 mmHg and in pre-
term, is 15-25 mmHg
3.BP is not routinely measured in newborns unless a
cardiac anomaly is suspected or present.
4. Systolic pressure increases during the first 2
months and diastolic pressure during the first 3
months before gradually rising again.
5.Abnormal finding: Calf systolic pressure 6-9
mmHg than systolic pressure in upper
extremities may be indicative of coarctation of
The newborn’s head is disproportionately larger
than the body because it is about one fourth of
the total body length compared to being one
eight only in adult.
1. Fontanels, also known as soft spots, are spaces located at
the areas where skull bones meet. The most prominent
fontanels that are important to assess are the:
Anterior Fontanel (Bregma) – located at the junction of the
two parietal bones and fused frontal bones. It is diamond
shaped, about 3 cm long and 2 to 3 cm wide. The anterior
fontanel closes at 12 to 18 months of age.
Posterior Fontanel (Lambda) – located at the junction of
parietal and occipital bones. Begins to close at 2 months of
age. Measures at about 0.5 to 1 cm in length. It may be so
small in some newborns that it cannot be felt.
Fontanels are usually flat, soft and firm and may
pulsate. They tend to bulge when the infant
strains when passing stool, crying vigorously or
Very large fontanels may indicate
Bulging fontanel may indicate increased
Sunken fontanel is a sign of dehydration
Abnormally small fontanels or suture lines
that do not override or have spaces
Sutures or suture lines are membrane covered spaces
between skull bones. The four suture lines that can be
1.Frontal Suture – can be palpated midline above the
eyes running up the forehead and ending at the
2.Coronal Suture – can be palpated from the anterior
fontanel running down the side of the head along the
forehead line towards the ears.
3.Sagittal Suture – can be palpated running
midline between the anterior and posterior
4.Lambdoid Suture – can be felt from the
posterior fontanel running down the head above
the occiput towards the area behind the ears.
1.In vaginal delivery, the cranial bones in the part of the
head that enters the cervix molds to decrease the
diameter (size) of the head and be able to fit in the birth
canal. This is achieved by the sliding and overlapping
of cranial bones to each other. This overlapping is
called molding and it cause the newborn to become
cone-head in appearance, the head flattened over the
forehead and rises to a point of the posterior of the skull
over the occiput. Molding is generally symmetrical in
nature. This change in the contour of the head of the
newborn is expected during the first two days of life.
The head regains its normal shape within one week.
There is lack of molding in premature infants
because their small skull can easily pass through
the birth canal and those infants born by
caesarian section and breech delivery.
PRESENTATION SITES OF MOLDING
Occipitoanterior Biparietal and
Occipitoposterior Occipitobregmatic increased,
Face presentation Submentobregmatic is
decreased and occipitofrontal
1.Pressure of the presenting part against the cervix
delays venous return resulting in accumulation of
fluid within the scalp, a condition called caput
2.This edema of the scalp is seen on the presenting
part and has a generally symmetrical appearance and
crosses the suture lines.
3.Caput succedaneum is present at birth, absorbs and
disappears without treatment in 3 to 4 days.
1.Forceps delivery and too much pressure against the
pelvis may lead to rupture of several capillaries of
the periosteum of the fetal skull resulting in bleeding
and accumulation of blood between the skull bone
and periosteum. This condition is known as
2.It is a swelling that never crosses suture lines, has a
generally asymmetrical appearance and appears
several hours after birth.
3.It resolves within 3 to 6 weeks after birth without
4.Hemolysis of blood when the hematoma begins to
resolve can lead to release of large amounts of
bilirubin in the newborn’s bloodstream which may
1.Craniotabes are soft areas in the cranial bones
that corrects without treatment within a few
months after birth as the bones harden with the
aid of calcium in milk. The bones can be
indented by pressure applied by a finger at the
margin of the parietal and occipital bones
along the lambdoid suture. It returns to normal
contour once pressure is removed.
2.It is caused by prolonged pressure of the fetal
skull against the mother’s pelvis after the
lightening that is why it is more common in
firstborns. It is also found in infants born in breech
3.May also indicate hydrocephalus, congenital
syphilis or rickets.
1.Although head lag is normal in newborn because of the
immaturity of the muscles and nervous system, the
newborn exhibits some degree of head control in certain
a. When the newborn is placed in sitting position, it will
attempt to control the head in upright position.
b.If the newborn is placed in prone position, it will
attempt to lift its head and move it fom side to side.
2.Excessive head lag is a sign of down syndrome,
prematurity, brain damage and hypoxia.
1.The vision of term infants is characterized as:
Visual acuity at birth is 20/150 to 20/190
Blink reflex – shine a bright light of touch
newborn lightly, the infant should demonstrate
an immediate blink.
Corneal reflex – apply light pressure on the cornea
using a piece of cotton, the infant should
demonstrate an immediate blink. This should occur
symmetrically. This reflex is not generally examined
unless brain or eye damage is suspected.
Pupillary reflex – shine light directly into the eye,
the pupil should constrict instantly. They should
have equal size constriction in the same amount of
3. Tears usually appear fter 3 to 4 months when
lacrimal glands are mature.
4. Subconjunctival hemorrhage – a flame-shaped
hemorrhage on the white of the eye (sclera) is not
uncommon. It’s harmless and due to birth trauma. The
blood is reabsorbed in 2 to 3 weeks.
5. When attempting to open the newborn’s eyes
spontaneously for examination, the newborn is placed
supine and the head is gently lifted.
Assess Normal Findings Abnormal Findings
Pupils Equal in size, round briskly
to light and clear, should
Coloboma – irregularly
Sluggish or asymmetrical
action to light is a sign of
Iris Almost all light skinned
newborns have blue or grey
eyes while dark skinned
newborns will have brown
Pink iris – sign of albinism
Opacities – congenital
cataract especially if
mother has history of
rubella during pregnancy
Assess Normal Findings Abnormal Findings
True eye color does not
show until the infant is 3 to
6 months old. Upper and
lower margins of eyelids
should visible when infant
Setting sun sign – iris
beneath lower lid, sign of
intracranial pressure, also
seen in premature
Sclerae Completely white and clear Yellowish/Jaundice sclera
is a sign of
Blue sclera – sign of
Assess Normal Findings Abnormal Findings
Discharge None newborns cry
tearlessly because of
immature lacrimal glands
Purulent discharge is a sign
Conjunctiva Clear Conjunctivitis – redness,
Stimson’s line – small red
line that runs across
Assess Normal Findings Abnormal Findings
Corneal reflex is present at
Eyeball Random movements
Strabismus and nystagmus
until four months
Doll’s eye until 10 days old
(eyes do not follow in
response to head
Strabismus persisting past
four months indicates
Persisting Doll’s eye
Assess Normal Findings Abnormal Findings
Can focus on objects 7 to 8
Can follow up to midline
Eyelids Should follow cover eye
when close and should fully
raise when open
Blink reflex present
Eye edema is normal
during the first two days of
Absence of blink reflex
Tyoptosis – early sign of
Assess Normal Findings Abnormal Findings
Normally placed Exopthalmus – protrusion
Enopthalmus – deeply
1.The top part of the pinna should be in line with
the outer canthus of the eye.
2.Ears below this line are considered to be low
set and are found in children with Down’s
1.In term newborns, the ears should be firm with
cartilage and recoil rapidly after bending. Lack
of cartilage in the ears indicates prematurity.
2.It is normal to find the ears folded over or
flattened against the side of head at birth. This
is due to pressure inside the uterus.
3.There should be no pinpoint openings in front
of the ear.
4. Otoscopic examination is not advisable in
newborns because the ear canal is usually filled
with amniotic fluid that interferes with
visualization of the tympanic membrane.
5. Ears are considered small if less than 2.5 cm
 in the term neonate.
1. The newborn can hear as soon as mucus is
2. They should turn to sound. Loud noise should
elicit the startle reflex. If the newborn is not
affected by a loud noise, it could be a sign of
3. Minor abnormalities may be signs of various
syndromes, especially renal problems.
1.The newborn’s nose should be assessed for
Placement – located midline on the face
Shape – symmetrical in placement and size
Close infant’s mouth and assess the quality of
Obstruct one nare at a time to determine choanal
atresia which is a blockage in the posterior nasal
Assess the movement of air in and out of the nares
by placing a finger under the nares to feel air
Presence of drainage – may have small amount of
clear or white discharge.
2. Excessive or discolored nasal discharge may be a
sign of congenital syphilis or other respiratory
1. Lip color is normally pinkish and should open evenly when
the infant cries.
2. The mouth and jaw should move equally when the baby
3. The soft and hard palate should be intact and the uvula
located at midline.
4. The tongue should be symmetric in shape and movement,
free movable and should not protrude.
5. Lingual frenulum attaches the underside of the tongue to the
lower palate. It should not be too tight to allow freedom of
6. Small white cyst may be seen at the palate which
are accumulation of epithelial cells and are called
Epstein pearls. They disappear within two weeks.
7. The patency of the esophagus should be checked by
passing a stiff rubber catheter into the stomach in the
Single umbilical artery
Excessive drooling of saliva
o If there is no esophageal atresia and the catheter has
reached the stomach, gastric content should be
aspirated. If gastric aspirate exceeds 20 ml in
volume, it indicates high intestinal obstruction due
to pyloric or duodenal atresia.
1. Rooting, sucking, gagging and extrusion reflex should be present
Assess sucking reflex by placing a gloved finger in the infant’s
mouth or by monitoring feeding. The newborn exhibits a strong
suck when she is able to form a tight seal around the finger,
nipple or bottle. A weak suck occurs if the infant is either unable
to form a seal or unable to suck because of fatigue or deformity.
Assess for gag reflex by gently stimulating the posterior oral
cavity. The infant should have a strong coughing response to the
stimulation. Absence of gag reflex should be considered an
emergency situation because the neonate cannot protect his
airway without this reflex.
Assess for the rooting reflex by gently stroking the
neonate’s cheek. The infant should respond by turning his
head to the side that was stimulated. This is an important
feeding reflex. Its absence indicates possible neurologic
The extrusion reflex occurs when the infant responds to
foreign objects in the mouth by pushing them outward with the
tongue. ( Keehn Nicole F., Lieben Katrina, Newborn
Assessment, Available at NetCE Website
2. It is normal for a newborn to have scanty saliva due
to immature salivary glands.
3. Some newborns have teeth at birth called
precocious teeth or natal teeth. These teeth are usually
located at the position of the lower incisors. If the
teeth are loosely attached, they should be pulled to
prevent aspiration. If not they can be left in place until
they are shed off spontaneously.
1.Cleft lip and palate.
2.Asymmetry in lip movement indicate 7th cranial
3.Assymetric crying is a useful marker of associated
cardiovascular anomalies and congenital dislocation
4.Lip cyanosis indicates respiratory distress or
5.Macroglossia indicate prematurity.
6. Protruding tongue may indicate chromosomal disorder
such as Down’s syndrome.
7. Excessive saliva may indicate esophageal atresia or
8. Presence of oral thrush that bleeds when touched in
moniliasis transferred from the mother during delivery.
9. A tight frenulum often referred to as tongue-tie, can
prevent proper sucking. In this case frenuloplasty may be
required to correct the defect.
1. The neck of the newborn appears short and chubby with many
skin folds. It should be symmetric without webbing, flexible
enough to allow free movement of the head equally to both
2. The neck lengthens at 2 to 3 years of age.
3. Although it is not strong enough to support the head, the infant
should exhibit temporary head control when placed in sitting
4. When in prone, newborns can lift their head slightly and move
from side to side
5. The thymus gland is usually enlarged due to rapid growth of
glandular tissue and triples in size by 3 years. After 10 years, the
thymus gland decrease in size.
1. Enlarged thyroid gland may be sign of goiter or hyperactive
2. Limited neck movement accompanied by pain is a sign of
meningeal irritation (opisthothorus).
3. A distended vein is a sign of cardiopulmonary disorder.
4. Rigidity of the neck or torticollis may be due to injury to
5. Webbing of the neck, generally noticed from the back of the
neck, may be indicative of chromosomal abnormalities.
1.The chest usually looks small in relation to head. The
chest has a barrel shaped appearance almost circular
should be symmetric with clavicles straight.
2.The shoulders are sloping with width greater than
3.Heart rate is heard to the left of midclavicular space at
third or fourth interspace; may have functional
4.The heart should be examined for its position and any
1.Chest retraction – respiratory distress
2.Bulging of the chest – pneumothorax,
3.Displacement of the heart towards the right side
accompanied by respiratory difficulty and
resuscitation problems is suggestive of either
diaphragmatic hernia or pneumothorax on the left
4.Malformation – funnel shaped, pectus excavatum
1. The newborn’s breast nodule is approximately 6 mm (5 to
2. The nipples are prominent, well formed and symmetrically
3. Engorgement of the breast in both male and female infants
is due to the influence of maternal hormones in the utero, it
subside within 2 weeks.
4. Sometimes a thin watery fluid called witch’s milk is
secreted by the newborn’s nipple. It disappears within the
first week of life. It is caused by the influenced of maternal
1.Malpositioned or widely spaced nipple
2.Presence of supernumerary nipples
3.Lack of breast tissue, less than 5cm, indicates