Cold feet and hands in a newborn - is this the norm?

A small child is not only a great happiness for parents, but also a huge challenge. Especially caring for the first child can be a difficult and demanding experience, because the newly-baked parents are just learning to dress, feed, bathe, dress and, most importantly, the behaviors and habits of the baby himself. Many phenomena and situations can certainly frighten even the hardest and best prepared caregivers, but fortunately most of them later turn out to be simply a transient condition. One such situation is cooling of newborn limbs, which parents often worry about. What can such a state indicate and when to worry - we will try to answer these questions in our article.

Is the newborn really not too cold?

One of the most important rules to keep in mind when taking care of a newborn baby is that he must always be properly dressed, because extremely easy to lose heat. This is because, unlike an adult, such a toddler has a relatively large body surface, which greatly facilitates the loss of heat to the environment. For this reason, small children must be dressed a little warmer than others and should be remembered.

Excessive concern for the good of the baby can, however, lead to the other side to overheat it, which also should not be done. So how do you center it and choose the right temperature? Just check if your newborn baby is too cold or warm.

Unlike adults, the baby's cold hands and feet do not mean that he is freezing, and to make sure you should just touch the baby's neck skin - it should be good to touch pleasantly warm. Hot and sweaty skin will indicate overheating, while cool skin will indicate that it is cold. In case of doubt, you can always check the body temperature of a newborn with a thermometer, you just have to remember that the correct values ​​differ depending on the method and place of measurement.

Do you need to see a doctor?

In the case of small children, it is always worth going to the doctor one time too much than too little, so if a parent notices anything that causes him serious anxiety, there is nothing to hesitate. Due to the fact that children's organisms are in many respects immature and very different from adult organisms, also the symptoms of diseases can be quite different for them, which makes diagnostics and treatment of children can cause many difficulties for doctors.If the coldness of the newborn's limbs persists for a long time, or worries the parent, then it is worth going to the family doctor or pediatrician to consult it.

Often, however family doctors or pediatricians are unable to determine the cause of the coldness of the newborn's limbs and refer parents to specialists in the field of cardiology, fearing that this may be related to cardiovascular abnormalities.During such consultation, the doctor will carefully collect the interview and examine the baby. A big help in this diagnostic process is ECHO examination of the heart (UKG), which is completely safe and non-invasive. During its performance, the specialist has the opportunity to carefully examine the structure of the heart and how it works, so that he can then confirm or exclude such irregularities as e.g.atrial septal defect, ventricular septal defect, valve insufficiency or right or left ventricular outflow obstruction.

Fortunately, in most babies the cause of cold hands and feet is not serious and, as specialists suspect, is simply related to the underdevelopment of the vascular system at such an early stage of the child's life, and therefore the blood has difficulty in properly flowing and reaching the tiny peripheral vessels in the hands and feet of newborns.

When should you worry?

Usually, the cooling of the limbs in a newborn is a transitional stage and after some time the cardiovascular system matures and begins to perform all its functions, however, there are certain situations that require consultation of a specialist

Cyanosis - bruising and coldness of the limbs indicates the centralization of circulation is beginning. This means that the body, wanting to protect against ischemia, the most important organs (brain, heart, lungs) limits the blood supply to peripheral organs, including the limbs. This causes their ischemia and hypoxia, and consequently bruising and cooling. This symptom may appear, e.g. due to the abnormal structure or function of the baby's heart.

Fever - increased body temperature of the newborn, cold feet, vomiting, marbled skin, acceleration of breath and shortness of breath, tense darkness and disturbed consciousness are just some of the symptoms of meningitis. In this situation, you should immediately go to the hospital, because if left untreated, it can be fatal.

Asymmetry of limb temperature - cooling of only one limb or, e.g., only the lower limbs may indicate some obstacle to the blood supply to this area of ​​the body. This symptom absolutely requires urgent consultation of a doctor.

Despite the fact that a newborn baby may seem to be just a lot more sleepy, often eating and completely dependent on the caregiver, in fact, almost everything that happens in his body is completely different from the processes occurring in adults. Therefore, some babies may initially have cold hands and feet, most likely the result of incomplete maturity of the cardiovascular system. This is not a cause for greater concern if it is not accompanied by alarm symptoms such as cyanosis, asymmetry or fever, or if the condition does not last too long. Due to the fact that such symptoms can sometimes indicate some abnormalities related to the structure or function of the circulatory system, it is always worth consulting with your family doctor or pediatrician about this.

Care for the newborn Editorial office: Agnieszka Balanda
Pediatrics Volume 1 and 2 Wanda Kawalec, Ryszard Grenda, Editorial office: Helena Ziółkowska