Sick and preterm babies are more susceptible to infections. By far, the most common way
infections are transmitted among babies and from staff members to babies is lack of careful
hand-washing and/or lack of consistent use of a waterless antiseptic agent (alcohol-based
Do not forget to wash your hands or use a waterless antiseptic hand rub before and after
each time you examine or care for each baby. Cleansing of hands and standard precau-
tions are needed at all times, for all babies, by all providers.
9. How Do You Determine Why a Baby Is Sick?
You need to assess the baby’s
• Risk factors: You should learn the risk factors (if any) for every baby delivered in your hos-
pital. This includes reviewing each baby’s prenatal, labor and delivery, and neonatal history.
• Vital signs and observations: Temperature, pulse, respirations, and blood pressure should be
taken at least once an hour for every sick baby. At-risk babies also require frequent checking
of vital signs. Color and activity should be assessed carefully and routinely.
• Laboratory tests: The appropriate tests depend on a baby’s risk factors and/or illness. Proper
care of an at-risk or sick baby requires that appropriate tests be done, even if a baby “looks OK.”
Now answer these questions to test yourself on the information in the last section.
B1. What are the ABCS’s that help you decide what to do ﬁrst when caring for sick babies?
B2. What are 6 things you should not do for sick babies?
B3. What are the 3 main tools you use to assess a sick baby?
Check your answers with the list near the end of the unit. Correct any incorrect answers and review
the appropriate section in the unit.