Characterization of newborn
visits to the pediatric emergency department (PED). Analysis of the main illnesses and establishment of association between certain conditions and severity of diseases.
Retrospective study information concerning newborns (aged <28 days) who presented to the PED of Hospital
Central de Faro during 2005. We studied the clinical and demographic data referring to the PED's episode and to perinatal occurrences.
A total of 540 neonates visited the PED (1.5% of the total PED use), with an average age of 14.0 days and a slight prevalence of males (53.1%). Of the total visits, 17.2% were primary physician referrals. The chief complaints were jaundice, excessive crying, and rash. Diagnostic tests were requested in 27.2% cases. The major diagnoses were nonapparent disease, infant colics, and physiologic jaundice. In 13.0%, hospital
admission was necessary. Newborns with referral, those with less than 37 weeks of gestation and those whose delivery weight was less than 2500 g, were more likely to be admitted.
Most PED visits were because of nonserious diseases, mainly because of insufficient caretaker knowledge and information. This highlights the great need for caretakers' education by health staff. It is also important that physicians are aware of the main illnesses in the newborn
period and know how to correctly identify the conditions associated to serious pathology.