Taking Newborns Home Too Early May Be Risky
"A shorter stay reduces the opportunity to train the mother
in infant care during her hospital stay. And, to the extent that there is more
education that would be lost now than previously, because of the 'Back to
Sleep' campaign, we actually think our results may be even stronger today than
they were 10 years ago. Today, with a longer stay, there would be more
education and therefore we would expect a longer stay to have an even greater
beneficial effect," Malkin tells WebMD.
Education is also a way to prevent two other important causes
of readmission and death among newborn babies. Ipp says improper breastfeeding
can lead to babies becoming dehydrated and jaundiced. Jaundiced babies have a
yellowish tinge to their skin and the whites of their eyes. Mild jaundice may
simply go away, but more serious cases can lead to death, Ipp says.
Teaching new moms proper nursing technique
can minimize the risk of jaundice and dehydration. Another way to avoid
problems is to delay discharge of a baby who is having obvious trouble
Suzanne Trupin, MD, agrees that maternal education is a major
issue that has taken a back seat in the era of managed care.
"In the olden days, my patients would go for a
get-acquainted visit with their pediatrician and go over certain issues. With
managed care, nobody does that anymore. Even if you pick a pediatrician and go
for a get-acquainted visit, [the hospital] has an assigned pediatrician on
nursery call. So it doesn't matter who you pick, that pediatrician will see
your baby," says Trupin, a clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology
at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Urbana. "So they certainly are not going to give the mother as
much direction about what to look for as they would [on a one-to-one
One important piece of advice to help minimize some of these
problems: Parents-to-be should talk with their obstetricians, pediatricians,
and other health care providers about caring for a newborn and infant. They
should start the discussions during the pregnancy and learn as much as possible
about parenting from the providers and from other sources of information.