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All Stopped Up
Nasal Congestion in Infants By Lisa A. Goldstein
New parents have enough worries. The last thing they need to think about is breathing, which, to them, is second nature. But to Baby, it's not. And nasal congestion in babies is, unfortunately, quite common.
In fact, says Dr. Ari Brown, pediatrician and co-author of Baby 411: Clear Answers and Smart Advice for Your Baby's First Year (Windsor Peak Press, 2003), virtually all newborns have some nasal congestion for up to six weeks.
Nasal congestion is more bothersome in newborns, as they are actually nasal breathers from the early neonatal period to about 2 months of age or so, explains Dr. Lamenta Conway, a pediatrician with the Sinai Children's Hospital and Access Community Health Network in Chicago.
- Difficulty with feeding
- Crying, becoming agitated
- Nasal discharge
- Noisy nasal breathing
- Difficulty sleeping
- Possibility of fever
- Greater comfort when sitting upright
The causes for nasal congestion can vary. "Viral infections [common colds] are common among children, and infants are susceptible as well," says Dr. Conway. Acid reflux is another cause, says Dr. Brown. Sinusitis/adenoiditis (secondary bacterial infection) is possible if the nasal discharge is discolored and has been present for more than two weeks straight, he adds. Allergies may be another culprit � especially if the child is over the age of 2.
How long congestion lasts depends on the cause. If it's a typical virus, the symptoms can last for three to seven days, says Dr. Conway. "However, because children are susceptible to viral infections, there may appear to be short intervals between sickness and wellness as children may have as many as 10 to 12 viral/cold infections per year," she says.
When should parents be concerned? "If a newborn's breathing truly is labored with congestion, if it persists more than six weeks or if a baby under 3 months of age has a fever associated with it," says Dr. Brown.
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