Record Setting

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A two-day-old baby who was brought to the emergency department for being “fussy.” As a newborn, the baby had been discharged from the hospital only 5 hours before. This was record-setting! He was my youngest patient ever (except for those I personally delivered.) He was also the patient with the shortest time from hospital discharge to his first visit to the emergency department.

When I walked into the room, a young mother was standing by the gurney. A woman I presumed was the grandmother was also standing there, holding the little baby. The baby was definitely fussy. He was twisting his head to one side and making sucking motions with his mouth.

I spent only a minute talking with them before pointing out that the baby’s behavior showed he was obviously hungry. I suggested they feed him and then I would return to check him.

“How much should we feed him?” the grandmother asked. When I told her to feed him until he didn’t want any more, they expressed surprise. They said they had been told in the hospital to make sure not to feed him more than 20 milliliters so he wouldn’t vomit.

So, either from what they were told or what they misunderstood, they had been purposefully holding back on the amount they were feeding the baby.

My problem was they did not believe me when I tried to help them see that a hungry baby needs to be fed. My advice was at odds with what they understood from the hospital nursing staff. Finally, I called the Pediatrics resident to come spend some time with Mom and Grandma so they were comfortable feeding the poor kid. Once the baby had a full belly, he was fine and off they went. Hopefully, it would be more than five hours before they came back again.

 


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