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BabyCentre - Glossary of childcare
Category: Health and Medicine > Pregnancy, babies
Date & country: 13/10/2007, UK
Words: 475

neck-righting reflex
A newborn's reflex to turn his trunk and shoulders to the same side his head is turned.

To do with the first four weeks after birth.

neonatal care
Medical care for newborns.

neonatal intensive care unit
An intensive care unit which specialises in the care of premature, low-weight babies and seriously ill infants.

neonatal screening tests
Initial tests on a newborn baby to determine any birth abnormalities or metabolic disorders.

A doctor who specialises in the care of newborns.

nervous system
The internal network of nerves which registers and receives information and causes the body to take action.

A doctor who specialises in ear and hearing problems affecting the acoustic nerve.

A doctor who specialises in treating and diagnosing disorders of the nervous system and brain.

neuromuscular development
The development of a child's control over gross and fine motor skills.

A doctor who specialises in surgery on the nervous system.

The development of an ability to resist a disease; natural immunity may be provided by antibodies; immunity can also be induced via inoculations.

nipple shield
Flexible plastic covers which can be placed on the breast before feeding. Some women find they give temporary help for soreness but it is important long term to sort out the reason for the soreness. Check the baby's positioning at the breast. Nipple shields can cut down the amount of milk a baby takes at any one feed.

non-stress test
A test on the fetus which is done by measuring the fetal heart rate in response to his or her movements.

Time-released birth control, administered through six tiny tubes which are implanted in a woman's upper arm. It remains effective for up five years.

object permanence
A key part of cognitive development, when a baby understands that an object still exists even though it is not necessarily in sight.

A doctor or surgeon who specialises in pregnancy, childbirth and the immediate postnatal period.

Oedema means swelling. It is caused by fluid retention in the body's tissues, and is very common during pregnancy. It can also be a sign of kidney or urological problems.

A hormone produced by the ovaries which plays many roles throughout the body, but is particularly influential, along with the hormone progesterone, in regulating the reproductive cycle.

A condition in which there are too few sperm in the semen to allow a good chance of conception - sometimes referred to as a low sperm count.

A surgical procedure where a boy's testis or testes are removed due to failure to descend.

An operation to bring down an undescended testis into the scrotum.

Inflammation of the testes, sometimes in association with an infection such as mumps.

orthopaedic disability
A physical condition which affects mobility and the development of motor skills.

otitis media
An infection which fills the middle ear with fluid. Usually a secondary infection following a cold.

A pair of gonads (sex glands) which produce key female hormones and eggs, and are found on either side of the uterus.

The moment at which a mature egg is released from the ovaries into the Fallopian tubes - the time around when a woman is most likely to conceive.

An egg or ovum is a female reproductive cell produced by the ovaries. After fertilisation by a sperm (a male reproductive cell), the two cells fuse together to form a single cell, from which an embryo develops.

A hormone secreted by the pituitary gland which controls the contractions of the uterus and stimulates the flow of breast milk. Synthetic oxytocin may be used to induce labour.

A doctor who specialises in treating babies and children.

An abnormal heartbeat, often strong and rapid, and often caused by stress.

pap smear
A test where cells are swabbed from the cervix to determine any abnormalities and check for malignancy.

peak day
The final day in a menstrual cycle in which your cervical mucus has the consistency of egg white; the peak day usually coincides with the beginning of a temperature spike.

pelvic floor exercises
These exercises and movements simulate starting and stopping the flow of urine, and strengthen the pelvic floor.

pelvic floor muscles
The group of muscles at the base of the pelvis which help to support the bladder, uterus, urethra, vagina, and rectum. The muscles can be strengthened by doing pelvic floor exercises, which can aid delivery.

pelvic inflammatory disease
This infection can affect the uterus, Fallopian tubes, ovaries, and other parts of the reproductive system. The disease can be treated effectively with antibiotics; if left untreated, it can lead to infertility.

Perinatal refers to the period just before, during, and immediately after birth.

perinatal asphyxia
Asphyxia is a condition which develops when the body is deprived of oxygen. Perinatal asphyxia occurs when a severe lack of oxygen affects a baby just before, during, and after birth.

perinatal care
Care of a baby from immediately after birth through the first month of life.

A doctor who specialises in women with high-risk pregnancies.

The perineum is the area between the vagina and anus. When an episiotomy is performed during childbirth, it is the perineum that is cut.

persistent fetal circulation
A condition in which a newborn has difficulty making the transition from living in the womb to living in the outside world. It may produce respiratory problems.

Pertussis is a serious bacterial infection which causes violent coughing. Babies can be protected from the illness by the routine DTP vaccine in the UK.

Pain-relieving drug which is related to morphine and used during labour. It is usually given as an injection into the thigh. It can cause drowsiness, dizziness and nausea.

A genetic disorder in which a liver enzyme is defective, possibly leading to serious brain damage. The condition is determined through a blood test done at birth. It may be controlled by a special diet.

A treatment using ultraviolet light on a newborn to accelerate recovery from jaundice.

An organ which develops in the uterus during pregnancy, providing nutrients for the fetus and eliminating its waste products.It is also referred to as the afterbirth because it's delivered after the baby in a vaginal birth.

placenta praevia
A pregnancy-related condition where the placenta is placed abnormally low in the uterus, possibly covering the cervix, usually necessitating a caesarean section.

plantar reflex
A normal reflex curling of the toes, especially in children over one year of age, resulting from stroking the sole of the foot. Newborns will flex the big toe and spread the other toes.

Polio is a severe viral disease characterised by headache, fever, sore throat, and stiffness. It can lead to paralysis. The disease has become rare since the introduction of the polio vaccine.

polio vaccine
Babies in the UK are generally vaccinated against polio (as part of the DTP vaccination) at two, three and four months of age. The nurse or doctor will drop the liquid vaccine into your child's mouth.

polycystic ovary syndrome
This condition is often associated with infertility. A malfunction in a woman's body chemistry prevents her eggs from getting the right growth signal from her brain, causing her eggs to remain in their follicles and die instead of maturing and being released into her Fallopian tubes. As the eggs die, their follicles fill with fluid, swell, and turn into cysts; enough cysts can cause the ovaries to enlarge, sometimes to the size of a grapefruit.

Polyps are abnormal growths in a mucous membrane, often in the nasal passages, bladder, rectum, or uterus. Polyps have been associated with cancers and can be surgically removed.

To regurgitate small amounts of milk, usually after a feed.

A postmature baby is a baby born at 42 weeks or more. Postmaturity can be a problem because the placenta becomes less effective, and the baby may be larger and less pliable. Labour is often induced to avoid complications.

postnatal care
Medical care for both newborn and mother during the first six weeks after birth.

postnatal depression
A condition more serious than the baby blues (which many women experience in the first few days after delivery). Postnatal depression is characterised by sadness, impatience, restlessness, and an inability to care for the baby. Call your doctor if the depression does not appear to be lifting.

A condition which a mother may develop late in pregnancy, marked by sudden oedema, high blood pressure and protein in the urine. It can lead to eclampsia, where the mother has convulsions, so antenatal care staff monitor women carefully for the warning signs..

pre-implantation genetic diagnosis
Embryo biopsy, also known as pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, is an experimental test for genetic abnormalities in embryos before they are implanted using IVF (in vitro fertilisation).

pregnancy hormones
This term refers to any of the hormones involved in regulating pregnancy, including progesterone and oestrogen, as well as human chorionic gonadotrophin and human placental lactogen.

pregnancy test
A blood or urine test to determine whether or not a woman is pregnant.

pregnancy-induced hypertension
A pregnancy-related condition where a woman's blood pressure is temporarily elevated. It usually occurs during the last trimester.

premature baby
A premature baby is one who is born before 37 weeks of gestation.

premature labour
Labour that begins before 37 weeks.

premature rupture of the membranes
Rupture of the amniotic sac before 37 weeks.

primary health care team
The health care professionals working as part of a GP practice team who are responsible for an individual's overall health. The GP and other members of the primary health care team will suggest and authorise referrals to specialists or clinics where required.

Latin term for a woman who is pregnant for the first time.

primitive reflexes
A newborn's involuntary, automatic reflexes - they disappear in the first few weeks.

This hormone activates a mother's milk-producing glands. Delivery of the placenta signals a woman's body to begin producing prolactin.

prolapsed cord
This occurs when the umbilical cord comes through the cervix before the baby does. It can be dangerous because the contractions may cut off the blood and oxygen flow.

prolonged labour
This is the term for a long, difficult labour which does not progress to a vaginal birth after 18-24 hours.

pudendal block
Analgesia induced by anaesthetising the area around the vulva.

The period of about six weeks which follows immediately after the birth of a child.

A purgative is a purging medicine; something that cleanses or purges the body (via the bowels) of an unwanted substance.

The first fetal movements felt by the mother-to-be; most commonly between the 16th and 20th weeks.

Reddish spots or patches that may itch or irritate the skin. Rashes can be caused by illness, allergy or heat.

recommended daily allowances
The minimum recommended amounts of vitamins and minerals that a person should eat each day.

An automatic, involuntary movement.

reproductive system
The male and female sexual organs which produce sperm and eggs for conception.

respiratory distress syndrome
This condition is common in premature babies - the air sacs in the lungs collapse due to lack of an essential substance called surfactant. Most babies recover when given increased oxygen, but some need more aggressive therapy.

Reye's syndrome
This is a potentially fatal disease affecting all organs in the body, usually causing the brain to swell and excess fats to accumulate in the liver. It primarily affects children and teenagers when they are recovering from a viral illness. Symptoms include persistent vomiting, listlessness, and lethargy. The cause is unknown, but is frequently associated with aspirin consumption. Parents are therefore cautioned never to give children aspirin to reduce fever and pain for a viral illness.

Rhesus incompatibility
A condition in which a baby inherits a blood type from his father which is different from and incompatible with his mother's. It is usually not a problem in a first pregnancy but may cause problems with subsequent ones. Blood tests will usually determine if there is a problem before delivery.

rhythm method
The rhythm or cervical mucus method is a form of natural birth control which can work by timing intercourse according to the consistency of the woman's cervical mucus. Mucus similar to raw egg white signifies a time close to ovulation, when a woman is most fertile, while thick and cloudy mucus indicates a time when conception is less likely.

Rickets is a disease usually caused by a vitamin D deficiency, which makes it difficult for the body to absorb calcium. It results in bowed or deformed legs.

This is a term sometimes used to describe the system of care in some hospitals, in which a newborn stays in the same room with his mother.

rooting reflex
The rooting reflex is a baby's automatic reaction to turn his head and start sucking when his cheek is stroked. It helps babies to breastfeed.

roseola infantum
Roseola is a viral illness prevalent in children under the age of two. It is characterised by a high fever - up to 105 degrees F/41 degrees C - lasting four or five days, followed by a pink rash on the trunk.

This is commonly known as the abortion pill. It works by blocking the action of progesterone, which is vital for maintaining a pregnancy. It is effective only during the first seven weeks of pregnancy, or up to five weeks after a missed period.

This is a mild, highly contagious viral disease which can cause serious abnormalities in a developing fetus if a pregnant woman is infected, especially during the first trimester. Women who think that they haven't had rubella, or been immunised against it, are advised to check their immune status with a doctor and make sure they're immunised before trying to conceive.

salt bath
A shallow, tepid bath with salt in the water. It can help to help soothe haemorrhoids, perineal pain, and episiotomy stitches, although there is no evidence that it will promote healing.

Scabies is a contagious disease caused by parasitic mites which burrow under the skin, making it itch and break out in a rash. It can be treated with special creams or ointments and by washing clothes and bedding in boiling hot water.

scarlet fever
Scarlet fever is a contagious febrile disease in the streptococcus family characterised by a rash, sore throat, and high fever. It can be treated effectively with antibiotics in the early stages.

Sciatica is a common pregnancy-related condition. Pain in the leg, lower back, and buttocks is caused by pressure of the growing uterus on the sciatic nerve. Sometimes applying heat and resting will relieve the condition.

Abnormal curvature of the spine.

seborrhoeic dermatitis
Seborrhoeic dermatitis, commonly known as cradle cap, is a condition of the skin (usually on a baby's scalp) which causes crusting, scaling, and discolouration. It usually disappears during the baby's first year.

A seizure is a fit or convulsion brought on by involuntary, uncontrolled electrical currents in the brain. A seizure can result from a high fever or may be a sign of other conditions such as epilepsy.

separation anxiety
This describes the condition where a baby fears being separated from his mother, father, or primary caregiver, resulting in tears and quieting down when that person returns. Babies go through several different stages of separation anxiety, and their fears of separation can manifest themselves in different ways during the day and the night.

shaken child or baby syndrome
This syndrome occurs when a baby or child has been severely shaken and injuries have been sustained; these include swelling of the brain, haemorrhages, and whiplash.

Severe injury, blood loss, or disease can cause the blood flow to the body's tissue to be reduced, and a person may then go into shock. The state is characterised by clammy, cold skin, a weak pulse, and very low blood pressure.

A 'show' or 'bloody show' is the discharge of mucus tinged with blood that results from the mucus plug dislodging from the cervix as labour approaches.