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Newborn Transition to Extrauterine Life

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TRANSITION OF THE NEWBORN from the womb to extrauterine life at birth involves transformational changes in every major body system. Clamping of the umbilical cord and removal of placental blood flow triggers significant changes. The newborn's organs take over the functions of the mother's body and placenta, including the exchange of gases and nutrients, the removal of waste products, and thermal management. The pulmonary system expands and begins to function as a gateway for oxygen introduction into the body. The cardiovascular system moves from fetal circulation to postnatal circulation with the closing of the foramen ovale, ductus arteriosus, and ductus venosus. The gastrointestinal tract colonizes with bacteria and begins to perform digestive and excretory functions. The renal system takes control of electrolyte balance and excretion. The hematologic system responds to changes in blood volume and oxygenation. The metabolic and hepatic systems are involved in the breakdown of glycogen and fat stores to provide energy for the stress of transition. The integumentary system aids in the thermoregulation outside the womb. The neurologic and musculoskeletal systems must respond to the effects of the birth process and the changes to the infant's environment. Most newborns will make this transition without difficulty. However, failure in transition may require intervention to assist the newborn to survive and thrive.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2012

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