Newborn infant physical examination (NIPE)

Updated: Mar 8


Within the first 72 hours of life, babies are offered a physical examination. This exam consists of screening tests to the eyes, heart, hips and in boys the testicles.


The exam will be carried out by a doctor or midwife trained in NIPE, usually in the hospital before you’re discharged. It will last around 20mins, but varies from case to case. Parts of the exam may cause some small discomfort for your baby, but will not cause any pain.


The aim is to discover any problems early on so treatment and further tests can be carried out as soon as possible.


Your baby will be offered another examination at 6-8 weeks of age, as some conditions take a while to develop. This will be done by your G.P at your local surgery.


How is the examination done and what do they look for?


Eyes:


About 2-3 babies of out 10,000 are born with eye problems that need treatment. The doctor will check your baby’s eye movement and appearance and check for cataracts, along with other conditions.


Heart:


The doctor will listen to your babies heart using a stethoscope and monitor their pulse for an abnormalities.


Heart murmurs are sometimes picked up during this exam. They are common in babies and the heart is almost always normal.


Around 1 in 200 babies are born with a heart problem that needs treatment.


Hips:


Some newborns have developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH), this is where the hip joints are not formed properly. This needs treatment so further problems to joints or a limp doesn’t occur.


About 1 or 2 in 1,000 babies have DDH that needs to be treated.


Testicles:


Testicles form inside a baby boy’s body and descend down into the scrotum later in pregnancy or in the first few weeks after birth, occasionally it takes a few months. The doctor will check the location of them during this exam. It’s very common, around 1 in 25, will not be descended at this check.


It's not known why some boys are born with undescended testicles. Most boys with the condition are otherwise completely healthy.


The doctor will record their findings from the exam in your baby’s personal health record (red book). If your baby needs to be referred for more tests or receive any treatment, this will likely be done before you’re discharged.

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