Infant Skin Color and Texture

As a new parent, you might be worried if your infant is exhibiting different skin color and texture. While this is often normal shortly after childbirth, it may also be indicative of an underlying medical issue.

Anemia or Paleness

If your baby appears excessively pale or anemic, this may be a sign of anemia, but it’s important to note that other symptoms typically have to be present as well. Anemia occurs when a baby doesn’t have enough red blood cells in the body.

According to the Mayo Clinic, associated symptoms of anemia include:

  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Poor cognitive development
  • Abnormal body temperature
  • Unusual cravings for things such as dirt, clay, ice, and starch.

Anemia may also be associated with:

Cephalohematoma – Sometimes there is bleeding between the brain and the membrane underneath the skin, causing blood to pool. Because the blood is pooling, it’s natural for the rest of the blood in the system to respond, causing anemia from the blood supply being concentrated in one place. Other symptoms of this injury could be jaundice, infection, and soft bulges on the head.

Folic Acid Deficiency – Because there’s not enough folic acid for the baby’s body to run on, the body starts responding in ways that communicate that it is deprived. Other symptoms of folic acid deficiency anemia include breathlessness, lethargy, palpitations, and tiredness.

If Your Infant is Blue in Color

If your baby is blue in color, it’s extremely important to contact professional medical help immediately. When an infant has a blue appearance, it may indicative that there is a problem with oxygen deprivation and that the oxygen supply is reduced. The baby can only withstand this for only a few minutes before brain damage occurs.

Perinatal Asphyxia is a term marked by an infant being deprived of oxygen anytime during the perinatal period –that is, any time before, during, or after delivery.  The skin can also be waxy in appearance, communicating that there is not a sufficient amount of oxygen.

Bruises or Lacerations

If you see bruises and lacerations, it’s important to seek medical assistance, even if you feel that it’s not that severe. Bruising may look harmless and it’s usually common after delivery, but in some cases, it may mean that there is an underlying medical condition. In other instances, however, your physician may have misused tools that are intended for safe delivery:

Forceps delivery injury – Sometimes when the doctor uses forceps, he or she can bruise or lacerate the skin around the baby’s head and neck. Bruises and lacerations can sometimes be symptoms of other problems, such as skull fractures or brain damage. Another symptom of a forceps delivery injury is soft bulgest on the head.

Vacuum extraction injury – Because a vacuum extraction doesn’t involve using metallic tools, some parents believe that it’s safer. Sometimes it is –and sometimes a vacuum extractor can be improperly placed on the baby’s head, causing the soft, underdeveloped plates in the baby’s skull to move or to put undue pressure on the baby’s brain, thus causing a brain injury. There may not be lacerations in this case, but there may be bruising.

General delivery injury – Mothers and babies may have cuts or lacerations in various places from a delivery. Mothers may have vaginal lacerations and the babies may have lacerations in other places such as arms and legs. These are considered a birth injury just as much as bruises from dropping the baby, mishandling the baby, or any accidental blunt force trauma to the baby.

If Your Infant Has Yellow Skin

It’s generally acknowledges that jaundice in the first few days after birth is normal. During pregnancy, the mother’s body has been processing bilirubin while the digestive system developed, and now at delivery, the mother’s body is no longer available to process that bilirubin for the baby. Sometimes the baby’s body is overwhelmed with its new job, rising in the level of bilirubin, causing jaundice.

Newborn Jaundice – Watch out for jaundice as it can quickly turn into a birth injury. Even though it’s pretty normal, be sure to consult your doctor immediately so that he or she can observe your child. There shouldn’t be any other symptoms than yellow skin. If there are other symptoms, then the jaundice has developed to kernicterus.

Kernicterus – This is a rare but extremely dangerous form of brain damage that happens if the levels of bilirubin climb so much that they start flooding the brain.

Symptoms of kernicterus include extreme jaundice, absent startle reflex, poor feeding or sucking, and lethargy. Mild symptoms include high pitched crying, arched back while crying, bulging soft spot (generally on the head), and even seizures. The worst symptoms of Kernicterus include high-frequency hearing loss, intellectual disability, movement disorder, muscle rigidity, seizures, and speech difficulty (as it’s a newborn, the speech difficulty manifests as strange or unusual crying or noises).