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Watch for Warning Signs

June 22, 1995|KATHLEEN DOHENY

As the trend to earlier discharge of mothers and newborns continues, parents shoulder more responsibility for safeguarding health. Here are some tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists:

* Within 48 hours of early discharge, newborns should have a follow-up visit to be screened for hypothyroidism, phenylketonuria (PKU) and other disorders. If a test for PKU--a disorder that can cause mental retardation if not treated early--is done before 24 hours of age, it must be repeated no later than the third week.

* Be on the alert for worrisome symptoms that could indicate a serious problem. Among them: a swollen and hard abdomen, bluish skin color that does not return to normal as the baby warms up or calms down, jaundice, excessive crying, a change in crying pattern, fluctuations in body temperature.

* Mothers should seek medical help if voiding is difficult, if body temperature fluctuates or if they have trouble breast-feeding or stopping milk production.

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