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What care do newborns receive in the hospital?

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Newborn Screening

Newborn screening is the practice of testing newborns for certain disorders and conditions in the first 24 to 48 hours after they are born. In some cases, infants seem healthy at birth, but if they have these disorders or conditions they can develop serious medical problems later in infancy or childhood.

A complete list of the conditions for which infants are screened in each state can be found at Baby's First Test External Web Site Policy.

Newborn screening helps reduce and sometimes prevent negative outcomes by identifying conditions early. This may allow treatment to begin early enough to prevent damage. Newborn screening helps infants who, not very long ago, might have died in infancy or early childhood to grow to healthy adulthood.

Circumcision

Some male infants will be circumcised shortly after birth. Circumcision (pronounced sur-kuhm-SIZH-uhn) is a surgical procedure that removes foreskin from the penis. Foreskin is the fold of skin that covers the tip of the penis of an uncircumcised male.1

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), scientific evidence shows some potential medical benefits of male circumcision. Possible benefits include a lower risk of urinary tract infections, penile cancer, and sexually transmitted diseases. On the other hand, there is a possibility that the infant will experience pain, and there is a low risk of bleeding or infection.2 The AAP states that the health benefits of newborn male circumcision justify access to the procedure for those families who choose it.3

Parents and families should start thinking about circumcision before the infant is born. To make an informed choice, parents of all male infants should be given accurate information about the potential risks and benefits of the procedure. They should also have an opportunity to discuss the decision with health care providers.

If the parents decide to have their son circumcised, the procedure usually is performed in the first 48 hours after birth, before discharge from the hospital. Some boys are circumcised in the first few days of life at home as part of religious or cultural traditions. Some form of pain relief, such as a numbing cream, can be used to minimize the discomfort of circumcision.1

Preterm infants (born before 37 completed weeks of pregnancy) and infants born with health problems should not be circumcised until their condition is stable.1

Parents and caregivers should follow advice from their infant's health care provider about how to care for the penis as it heals from a circumcision.

If a male infant is not circumcised, the parent or caregiver can wash the penis with soap and water without pulling back (retracting) the foreskin. A newborn's foreskin may not retract completely. Over time it retracts on its own.1


  1. March of Dimes. (2012). News moms need: Should my son be circumcised? Retrieved August 2, 2012, from http://newsmomsneed.marchofdimes.com/?tag=circumcision External Web Site Policy [top]
  2. National Library of Medicine. (2012). Circumcision. Retrieved August 3, 2012, from www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/circumcision.html [top]
  3. Task Force on Circumcision. (2012). Circumcision policy statement. Pediatrics, 130, 585–586. [top]

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Last Updated Date: 11/30/2012
Last Reviewed Date: 04/12/2013
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