Paediatricians have expressed mixed reactions on whether a newborn crying or not crying immediately after childbirth is a serious cause for concern.

Speaking with PUNCH HealthWise in separate interviews, the experts disagreed on the significance of a first baby cry, especially on the notion that the cry is a confirmation that the newborn is healthy.

While one peadiatrician opined that a newborn not crying only becomes an issue when the baby is not breathing, another child care expert said the first cry of a baby is critical for the normal functioning of the infant’s brain.

Speaking with our correspondent, the childcare experts, Consultant Paediatrician/Neonatologist, Federal Medical Centre, Yenogoa, Bayelsa State, Dr. Urire Idholo, and Consultant Paediatrician, Federal Medical Centre, Birnin Kudu, Dr. Umma Idris, while disagreeing on the need for a newborn to cry immediately after birth, however, agreed that the first cry could be an important sign about the health of the baby.

Speaking with PUNCH HealthWise, Dr. Idholo said that when a baby is in the womb, the lungs are not used as the mother supplies oxygen to the child through the placenta.

She, however, noted that when a baby is born, especially within the first minute after delivery, the cry enables the lung to expand to enable it to send the fluid within out so the lung can be used effectively to exchange oxygen.

She said, “Doctors are worried when a baby does not breathe because the effectiveness of oxygenation or breathing can be compromised resulting in complications known as Perinatal Asphyxia. This implies hypoxia which is the shortage of oxygen and ischaemia which means inadequate blood supply affecting most organs of the body. The worst hit is the brain called hypoxic ischaemic encephalopathy whose long-term consequence is cerebral palsy.

“Other organs that could be affected are the kidneys resulting in kidney failure, the lungs, heart, digestive tract, etc. If the baby is breathing well and is looking pink and responding when stimulated, we would not bother so much about the cry. The baby would definitely cry when stimulated. We often start assessment one minute after birth. If other parameters are there and okay, there is no problem.

“That a baby cries after birth does not also mean all is well. Some may cry and still aspirate after birth and stop breathing. The same complications will occur. So, it is possible for a healthy newborn baby not to cry. With stimulation, they pick up. The cry is not our focus. Heart rate, respiratory effort, and colour are our focus. We just keep them warm. No beating, or turning them upside down. So, a baby should cry after birth but the absence of a cry does not mean a baby is in danger as long as the other parameters are okay. The presence of any other noise other than cry may most probably be an obstruction in the airway.”

However, speaking with our correspondent, Dr. Idris opined that a baby needed to cry immediately after delivery.

She said: “The first cry of a baby is very important for the normal function of the baby’s brain. The baby should cry immediately after it’s born – the first second of its life. If a baby doesn’t immediately cry, then it is a very serious problem that should be expertly managed by trained healthcare workers. It is rare for a healthy baby to refuse to cry. The only sound we paediatricians love is a normal cry of a newborn at birth. It heralds a beautiful beginning of a bright future. It also signifies that ‘so far so good’.

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