Newborns in homes with COVID can be monitored virtually

Written by on January 22, 2021

Newborns in homes with COVID can be monitored virtually

By Haley O’Brien

January 22, 2021

A silicone wireless sensor with miniature electronics embedded inside clings gently to the foot of a patient. Teresa Crawford/AP Photo

As pregnant women become infected with COVID-19, doctors are coming up with new ways to monitor infants’ health. 

Listen to the story.

Jennifer Janco, chair of Pediatrics at St. Luke’s University Health Network, says the virus is not transmitted from mother to child in the womb. But it’s important that babies are not exposed to the virus in the first few days of their lives. 

COVID aside, doctors say it’s important that newborn babies are closely monitored during the first few weeks of life. An infant’s weight needs to be checked regularly to ensure healthy growth. 

“I’m pretty good at visualizing a baby, but I can’t get down to the ounce, and say that you gained 2 or 3 ounces, or lost 2 or 3 ounces, and in those first days after birth it’s so critical to know if the baby is gaining weight appropriately, if feeding is established,” Janco says. 

COVID-19 just complicates it.

“If I’m looking at this baby visually and they look yellow but this baby has parents that are COVID positive, well they probably shouldn’t be going to the lab and sitting in the lab and potentially exposing people,” she adds. 

So obstetricians at St. Luke’s are giving infant scales to parents of newborns when someone in at home has tested positive for COVID-19.

Pediatricians watch online as the baby is placed on the scale. This way, doctors are able to do a virtual health check-up and advise parents how to care for their babies.

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