‘Neonates susceptible to hypothermia’
As cold wave continues in Kashmir, the paediatricians said cold increases neonatal mortality rate and puts children at risk, cautioning parents to take extra precautions.
Head Department of Paediatrics, Government Medical College Srinagar, Dr Muzaffar Jan, said for newborn babies, hypothermia is a major issue and cold adds to neonatal mortality.
“Maintaining temperature is important at home. The best option is to keep baby next to mother and encourage breast feeding. In winter baby’s face respiratory problems, pneumonia and cough,” he said.
Due to improper facilities at peripheral hospitals, the Valley’s lone paediatric tertiary care GB Pant Children hospital receives patients (babies) from peripheries.
“Till they reach here, they die due to hypothermia as ambulances lack proper heating system,” said a medico at the children hospital.
“We must ensure that babies are referred in a proper way,” Jan said.
Dr Suhail Naik, a paediatrician said the freezing weather can prove fatal for children particularly new born babies.
“When a baby is born, he/she comes out to environment temperature which is freezing. The sudden fall of external temperature can result increase in neonatal mortality,” he said.
Doctors said parents are habitual of taking babies to vaccination corner for vaccination without taking into consideration some major factors.
“To prevent hypothermia among new borne babies, parents must take babies to newborn stabilisation unit where there is proper temperature to keep them warm,” he said.
Naik said he has observed that people still follow traditional health seeking behaviour and prefer to go to vaccination before warm care and breast feeding which can prove fatal for baby.
“Maintaining temperature followed by breast feeding is utmost important. Immunization can be done later or before mother is discharged from the hospital,” he said.
As per paediatricians, neonatal mortality rate contributes 70 percent to infant mortality and this occurs in first 24 hours of life due to wrong practices and hyperthermia.
“Due to hypothermia, babies can suffer feeding problems like baby not accepting feed, cold stress, cold feet, vomiting, feeling lethargy and sometimes baby can land in to Designated Intravascular Coagulation, intra ventricular haemorrhage leading to death,” he said.
Doctors said parents shouldn’t use gas/kerosene heaters as they produ1c1e carbon monoxide/carbon dioxide.
“Children can succumb to carbon monoxide/carbon dioxide poisoning as newborns lack temperature regulating system and first feel symptom of suffocation,” he said.
The frozen temperature makes children susceptible to develop respiratory tract infections (RTI) saying cold damages innate immunity and makes it almost non-functional.
According to Naik, though cold temperature is favourable for different viruses that infect respiratory tract system and gasto intestinal system but frequency of RTI and diarrhoea diseases increases in such a season. “Parents must use boiled water throughout the day for the children”.
“Parents can check their baby to see if they are too hot or cold by feeling the baby’s tummy or their neck and adjusting their clothes,” he said.
Cold stress invariably worsens all the chronic diseases even in adults like hypertension, diabetes, stroke, arthritis, etc as cold stress decreases basic metabolic rate.
“This abnormal life style change and vasoconstriction of peripheral blood vessels makes adults susceptible to cardio vascular diseases and stroke,” Naik said.