A Comprehensive Glossary for Postpartum Care

Our internal reference for all things surrounding and related to postpartum  that we've decided to share with you. Bookmark it, forward it, ctrl+F it. We'll continue to keep this updated as we learn more.

Let us know if you have a question about something we've missed. Shoot us a note at bundles of health (at) gmail (dot) com.


AAP: Acronym for the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Abdominal Tumors: There are some solid tumors that occur more frequently in children than adults. These include Wilm's tumor and neuroblastoma. Patients with these tumors may (not always) have enlarged, firm bellies with a mass that can be felt. Other symptoms include weight loss, lack of appetite, or unexplained fevers.

Abscess: A localized collection of pus, associated with inflammatory (and sometimes infective) processes.

Acceleration: An increase in the fetal heart rate.

Acholic Stool: Official term for a clay colored poop. In isolation, it may have no significance. But, it can indicate a problem with the biliary system (liver, gallbladder, pancreas) if it is associated with other symptoms, particularly jaundice (yellowing) of the skin. Diagnoses can include hepatitis infection and biliary atresia. If you see this, check in with your doctor.

Acne (Neonatal): Skin inflammation due to hormonal changes in the newborn period. Onset is usually by four weeks of age and lasts until about eight weeks of age.

ACOG: Acronym for the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.


Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS): A group of signs and symptoms, usually of severe infections, occurring in a person whose immune system has been damaged by infection with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

Acute Abdomen: Term that refers to an emergency requiring surgical intervention to alleviate an intestinal problem. Examples of these problems include: appendicitis, intussusuception, intestinal obstruction.

Acute Life Threatening Event (ALTE): Term that describes an episode of lack of breathing (apnea) that requires intervention to resume spontaneous breathing. If an event like this happens, a thorough evaluation is done to determine the cause of the event.

Acute Otitis Media: Infection in the middle ear space. This is primarily caused by bacteria. When the infection comes up quickly, it is called "acute." Symptoms include fever, cranky mood, and vomiting. Occasionally, children may also seem dizzy. Ear infections that smolder for a long period of time are called "chronic" and do not have the same symptoms.

Acrocyanosis: The blue discoloration frequently seen on the hands and feet of newborns. This is due to the body circulation transitioning from fetal to newborn. It does not indicate any problem with the heart or circulatory system. Blue discoloration only on the feet or legs (not hands) can be a sign of a circulation problem (Coarctation of the Aorta) and needs to be evaluated.

AGA: Acronym for appropriate for gestational age.

Air Hungry: The inability of a person to get enough oxygen in with each breath. The person then tries to get more air in with each breath by using chest wall muscles and increasing the number of breaths taken per minute. This is also known as respiratory distress.

Allele: The alternative form of a single gene.

Alternate Massage: A method of breast compression used during feeding to increase the flow of milk to the baby. The mother compresses the breast with her hand when the baby pauses in sucking.

Alveoli: The small sacs in the lungs that allow oxygen to be transferred from the lungs to the blood.

Ambiguous Genitalia: It's hard to tell whether the baby has boy parts or girl parts. We'll test chromosomes, hormone levels, and get an ultrasound to look for internal genitalia (ovaries/uterus or undescended testes).

Amblyopia (Lazy Eye): A reduction of vision in an eye that is not correctable with glasses. This problem can be caused by a weakness of an eye muscle (strabismus). It is important to detect this eye problem early (under age two or three years) so it can be treated.

Amenorrhea: The absence of menstrual cycle.

Amniocentesis: A procedure in which a needle is used to withdraw and test a small amount of amniotic fluid and cells from the sac surrounding the fetus.

Amnionicity: In a multiple pregnancy, the determination of whether the babies share an amniotic sac or have their own amniotic sacs.

Amniotic Fluid: Water in the sac surrounding the fetus in the mother's uterus.

Amniotic Membranes: Another term for the amniotic sac; the fluid-filled sac in the mother's uterus in which the fetus develops.

Amniotic Sac: Fluid-filled sac in the mother's uterus in which the fetus develops.

Amniotomy: Artificial rupture of the amniotic sac.

Anal Fissure: A crack in the anus opening usually due to passage of a hard poop. The crack causes discomfort and occasionally blood in the diaper or on a diaper wipe.

Analgesic: A drug that relieves pain without causing loss of consciousness.

Anaphylactic Reaction: An allergic response to exposure to a particular item (that is, medication, food). The response is extremely serious and life-threatening. These body responses include: difficulty breathing, heart failure, loss of blood pressure.

Anemia: Abnormally low levels of blood or red blood cells in the bloodstream. Most cases are caused by iron deficiency, or lack of iron.

Anencephaly: A type of neural tube defect that occurs when the fetus's head and brain do not develop normally.

Anesthesia: Relief of pain by loss of sensation.

Anesthesiologist: A doctor who is an expert in pain relief.

Anesthetic: A drug used to relieve pain.

Aneuploidy: Having an abnormal number of chromosomes.

Ankyloglossia (Tongue Tie): The tongue is attached to the base of the mouth too close to the tip. Not all babies with tongue tie need intervention. If it is so tight that it intervenes with feeding or talking, the tissue band can be clipped. This is more likely to be a problem if the tip of the tongue is forked.

Anomaly: An unusual condition or abnormality.

Anorexia Nervosa: An eating disorder in which distorted body image leads a person to diet excessively.

Antibiotic Induced Colitis: Inflammation of the lower part of the intestine which, rarely, can be caused by antibiotics. Symptoms of colitis include blood and mucous in the poop, diarrhea, and cramping. If someone has been on an antibiotic just prior to the onset of these symptoms, a specimen of pool can be checked for this problem.

Antibiotics: Drugs that treat certain types of infections.

Antibody: A protein in the blood produced in reaction to foreign substances, such as bacteria and viruses that cause infection.

Antidepressants: Medications that are used to treat depression.

Antigen: A substance, such as an organism causing infection or a protein found on the surface of blood cells, that can induce an immune response and cause the production of an antibody.

Antiphospholipid Syndrome (APS): A disorder in which proteins called antibodies are mistakenly made against certain substances in the blood involved in normal blood clotting. It can lead to abnormal blood clotting and pregnancy complications, including pregnancy loss.

Anus: The opening of the digestive tract through which bowel movements leave the body.

AOM: Acronym for acute otitis media (middle ear infection).

Apgar Score: A measurement of a baby's response to birth and life on its own, taken 1 and 5 minutes after birth. A 10-point score determined for the newborn baby at birth, reflecting the health of the baby at that time. The name of the score is both the last name of the inventor, Dr. Virginia Apgar, and an acronym for the criteria scored: Appearance, Pulse, Grimace, Activity, and Respiration.

Apnea: Temporary cessation of breathing. Frequently, babies born prematurely have these events when they just plain forget to breathe. This is called apnea of prematurity. Preemies eventually outgrow this problem. Until they do, they are placed on an apnea monitor which alarms when breathing stops. Some babies also need caffeine (in medication form) to stimulate them to breathe.

Appendicitis: Inflammation of a small piece of the intestine called the appenix. The appendix is usually located in the lower RIGHT side of the belly, but this varies occasionally. When the appendix gets swollen, symptoms include: vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and abdominal pain that worsens over time. Appendicitis is extremely rae in teh birth to age one group.

Areola: Darkened area around the nipple.

Asperger's Syndrome: A term that is no longer used to describe a developmental disorder that is part of the Autism Spectrum Disorders. Historically, children with Asperger's have better communication and language skills than those more severely affected.

Assisted Reproductive Technology: A group of infertility treatments in which an egg is fertilized with a sperm outside the body; the fertilized egg then is transferred to the uterus.

Asthma: The swelling of the big and little airways in the lungs. The swelling can occur due to allergic response. The episodes happen intermittently. Symptoms include: coughin and labored breathing (respiratory distress).

At-Breast Supplementer: Fine plastic tubing, with one end attached to a container holding expressed human milk or formula and the other end taped to the breast.

Atopy: An allergy for which there is a genetic predisposition, such as asthma, eczema, or rhinitis.

Atresia: Means that something is completely absent or is significantly narrowed; Anal Atresia (anus - opening of the intestines to the outside); Biliary Atresia (bile ducts); Choanal Atresia (nasal/throat); Duodenal Atresia (small intestine); Esophageal Atresia (esophagus); Ileal Atresia (small intestine); Tricuspid Atresia (heart valve)

Augmentation of Labor: The use of medications or other means to stimulate contractions of the uterus during labor.

Autism: A group of developmental disorders that range from mild to severe and that result in communication problems, problems interacting with others, behavioral difficulties, and repetitive behaviors. The disorder has a genetic basis in at least 10-15% of the cases. The newer term, Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) more appropriately describes the umbrella diagnosis that encompasses the broad range from mild to severely affected individuals.

Autoimmune Disorder: A condition in which the body attacks its own tissues.

Autosomal Dominant: A genetic disorder caused by one defective gene; the defective gene is located on one of the 22 chromosomes that are not the sex chromosomes. If one parent carries an autosomal dominant gene, the chances are 50% that a child inherits the gene.

Autosomal Recessive: A genetic disorder caused by two defective genes, one inherited from each parent; the defective genes are located on one of the 22 chromosomes that are not the sex chromosomes. If both parents are carriers of the autosomal recessive gene, the chances are 25% that they will have an affected child. If both parents have the disease, chances are nearly 100% that they will have an affected child.

Autosomes: Any of the chromosomes that are not the sex chromosomes; in humans, there are 22 pairs of autosomes.

Bacteria: One-celled organisms that can cause infections in the human body.

Bacterial Vaginosis: A type of vaginal infection caused by the overgrowth of a number of organisms that are normally found in the vagina.

BAER: Acronym for brainstem audio evoked response. An objective hearing test that measures the electrical activity of the inner ear in response to sound. This is a universal screening test done on newborns. It is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics and currently mandated in most states.

Balanitis: An inflammation on the tip of the penis, which becomes inflamed an irritated. Balanitis can be caused by an infection.

Bariatric Surgery: Surgical procedures that cause weight loss for the treatment of obesity.

Basal Body Temperature: The temperature of the body at rest.

BF: Acronym fr breastfed or breastfeeding.

BFHI: The UNICEF Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative, an international program recognizing hospitals and birth centers that implement the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding.

Bilirubin: A yellow substance that is formed from the breakdown of red blood cells. High levels of bilirubin in the blood may result in jaundice in newborns.

Bilirubin Encephalopathy: Damage to the brain and central nervous system related to hyperbilirubinemia (jaundice), also known as kernicterus.

Biophysical Profile (BPP): An assessment of fetal heart rate by electronic fetal monitoring and assessment of fetal breathing, body movement, muscle tone, and the amount of amniotic fluid by ultrasound. The biophysical profile can be modified to include only some of these tests.

Birth Defect: A physical problem or intellectual disability that is present at birth.

Bladder: A muscular organ in which urine is stored.

Blastocyst: The cluster of cells formed 4-5 days after fertilization.

Bleb: A firm, small, white spot near the nipple pore opening containing accumulated milk solids. Also referred to as a milk blister.

Blocked Milk Duct: A condition in which milk from one part of the breast does not flow well and forms a lump of thickened milk that blocks the milk duct.

Blood in Stool: A symptom that may be caused by a variety of reasons. Blood can be found in poop due to skin irritation (diaper rash), a crack or tear in the anus (see anal fissure), inflammation in the intestine (milk protein allergy), intestinal infection (see gastroenteritis), or intestinal obstruction (intussusception). As you can see, the problem may be a minor or serious one. It always should be checked out by your doctor.

Bloom Syndrome: An autosomal recessive inherited disorder of short stature that causes sensitivity to light, increased risk for some forms of cancer, and other health problems.

Body Mass Index (BMI): A number calculated from height and weight that is used to determine whether a person is underweight, normal weight, overweight, or obese.

Brachial Plexus Injury: Decreased movement or sensation in the arm caused by injury to the bundle of nerves passing through the shoulder area. This may be caused during birth by pressure to the shoulder area.

Bradycardia: Slow heart rate (less than 100 beats per minute in an infant).

Brain Tumor: Abnormal mass of cells that grow in the brain tissue. Although not all tumors are malignant (fast growing, aggressive), even benign tumors can be life threatening depending on the location that it arises. Symptoms in infants and young children include morning headaches accompanied by vomiting, increasing head size, behavior changes, imbalance, seizures, and new onset eye abnormalities.

Branchial Cleft Cyst: An abnormality in fetal development of the throat that results in a cyst that occurs on the neck.

Braxton Hicks Contractions: False labor pains.

Breast Abscess: Area in the breast that feels hot and painful and is full of fluid. It results from unresolved mastitis.

Breast Compression: A method used during feeding to increase the flow of milk to the baby. The mother gently squeezes her breast when the baby pauses in sucking. Also called alternate massage.

Breastmilk Jaundice: Jaundice occurring in the breastfed infant after 10-14 days of life. The cause of breastmilk jaundice is unknown and the incidence is less than 1 percent.

Breath-Holding Spell: An episode where a child holds his breath when upset or angry. Usually occurs after one year of age. The episode ultimately results in a child losing consciousness and regaining normal breathing. Rarely, these episodes are due to anemia, but worth checking out if the episodes occur frequently.

Breech Presentation (Breech Position): A position in which the feet or buttocks of the fetus would be born first. Occasionally, a baby will decide to exit the womb with his butt, foot, or feet first instead of the usual head first (vertex) position. Because this can increase the risk of complications at delivery, it is preferable to deliver these babies by C-section. Babies who are breech in the womb, particularly girls, have a slightly increased risk of having hip dysplasia (also known as developmental dysplasia of the hips or DDH). There is an association between abnormal formation of the hips as a fetus leading to the unusual butt/foot first position for delivery.

Bronchiolitis: Swelling in the tiny airways in the lungs (bronchioles). In children, this is caused primarily by a virus called RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus). When the little airways are swollen, it can be difficult to exchange oxygen poor air with oxygen rich air. In severe cases, particularly infants under a year of age or those born prematurely, some children need medication to reduce the swelling and supplemental oxygen.

Bronchitis: Swelling in the larger airways of the lungs (bronchi). In children, this swelling is usually caused by a virus or bacterial infection.

Broncopulmonary Dysplasia (BPD): Term used to describe chronic lung disease that occurs primarily in babies who are born prematurely who require prolonged breathing assistance with a mechanical ventilator. The longer the baby is depedent on mechanical ventilation, the poorer the prognosis. Babies with BPD may have poor lung function, wheezing, and higher risk of severe complications with Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) infection. Lung function, however, usually improves over the first several years of life.

Brucellosis: Bacterial infection from contact with animals carrying Brucella bacteria. Infection causes an undulating fever that spikes in waves.

Bulimia Nervosa: An eating disorder in which a person binges on food and then forces vomiting or abuses laxatives.

Cafe Au Lait Spots: As the name implies, these are light brown (coffee with milk) colored birthmarks. They occur in babies of all races. Most of the time, there is no significance to these marks. When a child has more than five of these birthmarks, there may be an association with a disorder called neurofibromatosis.

Calorie: A unit of heat used to express the fuel or energy value of food.

Candida: A family of parasitic fungi occurring especially in the mouth, vagina, and intestinal tract. They are usually benign but can become pathogenic and include the causative agent (Candida albicans) of thrush.

Caput Succedaneum: Swelling of the soft tissues of a newborn baby's scalp that develops as the baby travels through the birth canal.

Carotinemia: A benign yellow discoloration of the skin due to a large dietary intake of carotene containing foods (carrots, sweet potatoes). The whites of the eyes remain white, as opposed to what is seen with jaundice.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: A condition caused by compression of the median nerve in the carpal tunnel of the wrist; symptoms include pain and burning or tingling in the fingers and hand, sometimes extending up to the elbow.

Carrier: [genetics] A person who shows no signs of a particular disorder but could pass the gene on to his or her children.tis: 

Carrier: [infections] A person who is infected with the organism of a disease without showing symptoms and who can transmit the disease to another person.

Cataracts: A clouding of the eye's lens. This can occur at birth (congenital cataracts). If a newborn has cataracts, it can be detected by the lack of a "red reflex" on an eye examination. A referral to a pediatric ophthalmologist is made.

Catheter: A tube used to drain fluid from or administer fluid to the body.

CDC: Acronym for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Celiac Disease: A disorder of the intestines which causes poor digestion and absorption of foods. The underlying problem is due to an abnormal response to gluten-containing foods (e.g. wheat, oat, rye grains). The classic symptoms of this disorder include foul smelling, chronic diarrhea and failure to thrive (lack of weight gain). Treatment is a lifelong glute-free diet.

Cell: The smallest unit of a structure in the body; the building blocks for all parts of the body.

Cell-Free DNA: DNA from the fetus that circulates freely in a pregnant woman's blood. It is the basis of a noninvasive prenatal screening test.

Cephalohematoma: A lump that rises on the head of a newborn within hours of birth due to bleeding beneath the bones of the skull.

Cephalopelvic Disproportion: A condition in which a baby is too large to pass safely through the mother's pelvis during delivery.

Cerclage: A procedure in which the cervical opening is closed with stitches in order to prevent or delay preterm birth.

Cerebral Palsy: A long-term disability of the nervous system that affects young children in which control of movement or posture is abnormal and is not the result of a recognized disease. Cerebral palsy does not cause any abnormalities in IQ. However, there are children who have both intellectual disability AND cerebral palsy.

Cervical Ripening: The process by which the cervix softens in preparation for labor.

Cervix: The lower, narrow end of the uterus at the top of the vagina.

Cesarean Birth: Birth of a baby through surgical incisions made in the mothers abdomen and uterus.

Cesarean Delivery: Delivery of a baby through surgical incisions made in the mother's abdomen and uterus.

Chickenpox: Also called varicella; a contagious disease caused by a virus that results in small, fluid-filled blisters on the skin.

Chlamydia: A sexually transmitted infection caused by bacteria that can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility.

Chloasma: The darkening of areas of skin on the face during pregnancy.

Choanal Atresia: Lack of communication between the back of the nasal passages and the throat. This can occur in one or both sides of the nose. If both sides are blocked, a newborn will have severe breathing problems. Newborns only know how to breathe through their noses fro the first four months of life.

Cholesterol: A natural substance that serves as a building block for cells and hormones and helps to carry fat through the blood vessels for use or storage in other parts of the body.

Chorioamnionitis: Inflammation or infection of the membrane surrounding the fetus.

Chorion: The outer membrane that surrounds the fetus.

Chorionicity: In a multiple pregnancy, the determination of whether the babies share a chorion or have their own chorions.

Chorionic Villi: Microscopic, fingerlike projections that make up the placenta.

Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS): A procedure in which a small sample of cells is taken from the placenta and tested.

Chromosomes: Structures that are located inside each cell in the body and contain the genes that determine a person's physical makeup.

Chronic Hypertension: High blood pressure that was diagnosed before the current pregnancy.

Circumoral Cyanosis: Blue coloration of the lips, usually due to inadequate circulation.

Clavicle: Shoulder bone, occasionally fractured during the birth process.

Clavicle (Collar Bone) Fracture: When mom is small and baby is big, it can be difficult to get the baby out of the birth canal. The baby's shoulder pulls out and can break the clavicle (collar bone) in the process. It heals nicely without a cast. The area can feel crunchy under the skin, then it feels like a hard lump. The lump is healing bone and goes away after several weeks.

Cleft Lip: A congenital birth defect causing division or split in the lip.

Cleft Palate: A congenital birth defect causing a division or opening in the roof of the mouth.

Club Foot: An abnormality in the formation of the foot of the fetus. The result is a stiff foot that turns markedly inwards. Pediatric orthopedic surgeons are consulted and a cast is made to correct the position of the foot.

Coarctation of the Aorta: A narrowing or kink in the great artery (aorta) that leaves the heart and supplies the body with oxygen rich blood. This is a defect that occurs during fetal development (prior to birth). If the abnormality is severe, it is diagnosed in newborns who have weakened/no pulse in the legs. If the abnormality is small, it may go undetected until later in life. It is repaired by surgery.

Collaborative Feeding: Phase of breastfeeding following self-attached feeding, in which the mother and baby are learning to manage feeding together.

Color Blindness: An inherited deficiency in the ability to see certain colors that usually affects males.

Colostrum: A fluid secreted in the breasts at the beginning of milk production. The first milk, produced in the breasts by the 7th month of pregnancy. Colostrum is thick, sticky, and clear to yellowish in color; is high in protein and vitamin A; and causes a laxative effect, thus helping the baby to pass meconium. Immunoglobulins (mostly IgA) in colostrum provide an anti-infective protection to the baby.

Combined Spinal-Epidural (CSE) Block: A form of regional anesthesia or analgesia in which pain medications are administered into the spinal fluid (spinal block) as well as through a thin tube into the epidural space (epidural block).

Complementary Feeding: The feeding of both human milk and solid or semi-solid food to a child between 6 and 23 months of age.

Complete Blood Count (CBC): A blood test that describes the size, shape, appearance, and amount of different cell types in the blood, such as white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. It also includes the hematocrit (the percentage of blood that is made up of red blood cells) and measurement of the level of hemoglobin (the protein that carries oxygen in red blood cells).

Conductive Hearing Loss: Difficulty hearing due to a problem with the transmission of sound waves to the part of the ear that controls hearing. Sound waves can be blocked due to fluid sitting behind the eardrum (see serous obits media) or a significant amount of earwax sitting in the ear canal. The good news about conductive hearing loss is that the problem can usually be fixed and normal hearing is restored.

Congenital: This refers to an abnormality in the formation of a certain organ/body part that occurs in the development of an unborn fetus. These abnormalities may be due to either hereditary problems or environmental exposures during pregnancy. The lay term for these disorders is birth defect.

Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia: A defect in the structural development of the heart or the great vessels that attach to the heart. Because heart development occurs in the first trimester of pregnancy, many congenital defects can be identified on a prenatal ultrasound. Some abnormalities will resolve on their own. Some require surgical repair. The disease incidence is 1:1000. The most common defects are the least serious ones. Remember, there is a difference between an innocent heart murmur (no defect) and a pathologic murmur (caused by congenital heart disease).

Congenital Nevus (Moles, Birthmarks): A mark on the skin which is present at birth, or appears within the first year of life. The most concerning moles are ones larger than 10 to 20 cm (really big) that are present at birth. These have more potential risk of skin cancer and removal is usually advised.

Congenital Rubella Syndrome (CRS): A condition that can be present in the newborn after a fetus has been infected with the rubella virus (also known as German measles) during the first trimester of pregnancy. Long-term complications can include heart and eye problems, deafness, and intellectual disability.

Congenital Varicella Syndrome: A condition that can be present in the newborn after a fetus has been infected with varicella (chickenpox) usually during the first or second trimester of pregnancy. Long-term complications can include eye abnormalities, brain damage, and limb abnormalities.

Congestive Heart Failure: When the heart is unable to perform adequately, the blood flow accumulates in the lungs and liver. So, symptoms of heart failure include shortness of breath and enlarged liver size. In children, symptoms include failure to thrive, sweating with feedings, shortness of breath, and excessive fatigue.

Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye): Inflammation of the tissue that covers the inside of the eyelids and the outer surface of the eye; The inflammation can be caused by a virus, bacteria, allergies, or irritation. All types of conjunctivitis cause redness and some discomfort; Allergic Conjunctivitis (an allergic response usually due to a sensitivity to something in the air, e.g. pollens; usually causes watery, somewhat itchy eyes; antihistamines treat the symptoms); Bacterial Conjunctivitis (a bacterial infection in the eye, often accompanied by ear and sinus infection; causes thick yellowish eye discharge and may even cause the eyes to be caked over or "matted"; antibiotic eye drops treat the infection); Viral Conjunctivitis (a viral infection in the eye that may be accompanied by a sore throat; causes watery and very itchy eyes); Irritation Conjunctivitis (eyes become inflamed because of a chemical irritant, e.g. shampoo)

Constipation: The texture of poop is significantly hard, and is passed either in small pieces or in a very large mass of small pieces stuck together. Contrary to popular belief, constipation is NOT defined by the infrequency of pool (although this can contribute to the problem). There is no defined length of interval for which a person needs to poop (it can vary considerably). If the poop is soft when it comes out, your baby is unlikely to be constipated.

Contraction Stress Test (CST): A test in which mild contractions of the mother's uterus are induced and the fetus's heart rate in response to the contractions is recorded using an electronic fetal monitor.

Contraindication: A condition or factor that makes something inadvisable.

Contrast Agent: A substance that is injected into the body (usually into the veins or arteries) during certain X-ray procedures that allows specific structures or tissues to be seen.

Cooper's Ligaments: The triangular-shaped ligaments underlying the breasts.

Corticosteroids: Hormones given to help fetal lungs mature, for arthritis, or for other medical conditions.

Cradle Hold: Breastfeeding position in which the mother holds the baby on her lap with his or her head resting on mother's forearm directly in front of the breast. Also called the Madonna hold.

Craniofacial: Involving the head and skull.

Craniosynostosis: A baby's skull bones have gaps that allow for the brain's growth in the first one to two years of life. This abnormality is a premature closure of the gaps (sutures) that occurs in about 1 in 1800 children. The reason why this occurs is unknown, but is not due to any birth trauma or complication. Early closure can cause deformities in the skull and facial shape, inhibition of brain growth, and increased pressure within the skull.

Crib Death: The unexpected and sudden death of a seemingly normal and healthy infant that occurs during sleep and with no physical evidence of disease. The origin is unknown. Also called sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Crowning: The phase in Stage 2 of childbirth when a large part of the baby's scalp is visible at the vaginal opening.

Cyanosis: Blue coloration of the skin, usually due to inadequate circulation.

Cystic Fibrosis (CF): An inherited disorder that causes problems in digestion and breathing. One in 20 Caucasians are carriers of this genetic abnormality. The disease incidence is 1:1600 for Caucasian babies (it is much less common in other races). Many women now receive genetic testing during pregnancy for CF, although it is not a routine screening test.

Cytomegalovirus (CMV): A virus that can be transmitted to a fetus if a woman becomes infected during pregnancy. It can cause hearing loss, intellectual disability, and vision problems in infected infants.

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT): A condition in which a blood clot forms in veins in the leg or other areas of the body.

Dehydration: A condition in which the infant is not receiving adequate fluids or is unable to maintain adequate hydration for another metabolic reason. In addition to the symptoms of actual dehydration, vomiting, diarrhea, and nausea could be adding to or causing the dehydration. This problem can become grave for the young infant. Symptoms include: dry or sticky mouth, low or no urine output, concentrated urine that appears dark yellow, nonproduction of tears, sunken eyes, markedly sunken fontanelles in an infant, lethargy or coma (with severe dehydration).

Depression: Feelings of sadness for periods of at least 2 weeks.

Diabetes Mellitus: A condition in which the levels of sugar in the blood are too high.

Diagnostic Tests: Tests that look for a disease or cause of a disease in people who are believed to have or who have an increased risk of a disease.

Diamniotic-Dichorionic: Describes twin embryos in which each twin has its own gestational sac surrounded by a complete layer of membranes (the inner amnion and the outer chorion) and separate placentas. These twins are usually fraternal (non-identical, with different genetic material), but sometimes can be identical (have the same genetic material).

Diamniotic-Monochorionic: Describes twin embryos formed from the same egg in which each twin has its own gestational sac surrounded by its own inner layer of membranes (the amnion), but a single outer layer of membranes (the chorion) surrounds both sacs together. These twins share a single placenta and are identical (have the same genetic material).

Diarrhea: Frequent passage of watery or very soft poop. In a breastfed baby, diarrhea is defined more by the dramatic increase in frequency of poop than by the texture.

Diastolic Blood Pressure: The force of the blood in the arteries when the heart is relaxed; the lower blood pressure reading.

Dietary Fiber: The part of whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and nuts that is not digested in the digestive tract.

Dilation: Widening the opening of the cervix.

Dilation and Curettage (D&C): A procedure in which the cervix is opened and tissue is gently scraped or suctioned from the inside of the uterus.

Dilation and Evacuation: A procedure performed after 12 weeks of pregnancy in which the cervix is dilated and the contents of the uterus are removed.

Diphtheria: A bacterial infection in which a membrane forms in the throat that can block the flow of air; a toxin produced by the bacteria can also damage the heart and nerves.

Discordant: A large difference in the size of fetuses in a multiple pregnancy.

Discordant Twins: Twin pairs with a marked difference in size at birth.

DNA: The genetic material that is passed down from parents to offspring. DNA is packaged in structures called chromosomes.

Doppler Velocimetry: A test that measures the flow of blood in a blood vessel. It can be used to measure the blood flow in the umbilical artery of the fetus to assess the blood flow through the placenta. It often is used to evaluate fetal growth restriction.

Doula: A birth coach or aide who gives continual emotional and physical support to a woman during labor and childbirth.

Down Syndrome: A genetic disorder caused by the presence of an extra chromosome and characterized by intellectual disability, abnormal features of the face, and medical problems such as heart defects. Many children with Down syndrome live to adulthood. Also called trisomy 21.

Duarte Galactosemia: A variant of galactosemia with generally milder complications.

Duodenal Atresia: Congenital abnormality of the first part of the small intestine to form. It's often associated with other abnormalities. Babies are diagnosed with this disorder before birth by an abnormal ultrasound (extra amniotic fluid found) or shortly after birth when they start vomiting bile. This requires surgical repair.

Dyad: A group of two. In lactation terms, usually refers to the nursing mother and baby.

Early Term: The period from 37 and 0/7 weeks through 38 and 6/7 weeks of pregnancy.

EBM: Acronym for expressed breastmilk.

Eclampsia: Seizures occurring in pregnancy and linked to high blood pressure.

Ectopic Pregnancy: A pregnancy in which the fertilized egg begins to grow in a place other than inside the uterus, usually in one of the fallopian tubes.

Eczema: A noncontagious inflammation of the skin, characterized chiefly by redness, itching, and the outbreak of lesions that may become encrusted and scaly. The underlying problem seems to be allergic in nature, and children with eczema have flare-ups with exposure to perfumed products and certain chemicals.

Edema: Swelling caused by fluid retention.

Effacement: Thinning out of the cervix.

Egg: The female reproductive cell produced in and released from the ovaries; also called the ovum.

Egocentric: The inability to see things from someone else's point of view. This is a child's view of the world from age two to about seven years.

ELBW: Acronym for extremely low birth weight (infant weighs less than 1,000 grams [2.2 pounds]).

Elective Delivery: A delivery that is done for a nonmedical reason.

Electronic Fetal Monitoring: A method in which electronic instruments are used to record the heartbeat of the fetus and contractions of the mother's uterus.

Embryo: The developing organism from the time it implants in the uterus up to 8 completed weeks of pregnancy.

Emesis: The technical term for vomit.

Enamel Hypoplasia: A thinning of the enamel of the teeth found in babies who are born prematurely. And, there appears to be less "catch up" growth of that enamel in babies born prematurely compared to their full term peers. This may result in increased risk of cavities.

Encephalitis: Brain inflammation usually caused by a virus or a bacterial infection.

Endometrial Ablation: A minor surgical procedure in which the lining of the uterus is destroyed to stop or reduce menstrual bleeding.

Endometriosis: A condition in which tissue that lines the uterus is found outside of the uterus, usually on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and other pelvic structures.

Endometritis: Infection of the lining of the uterus.

Endometrium: The lining of the uterus.

Engorgement: Swelling in the breast that blocks milk flow; caused by inadequate or infrequent milk removal. The breast will be hot and painful and will look tight and shiny. With severe engorgement, milk production may stop. Period of excessive breast milk production around three to five days after childbirth. Women's breasts feel full and often uncomfortable until milk demand and milk supply equilibrate.

Epidural Block: A type of regional anesthesia or analgesia in which pain medications are given through a tube placed in the space at the base of the spine.

Episiotomy: A surgical incision made into the perineum (the region between the vagina and the anus) to widen the vaginal opening for delivery.

Epispadias: Congenital abnormality of the formation of a boy's urethra (tube connecting the bladder to the outside). The hole is located on the top side of the penis, instead of in the center. This requires surgical repair.

Epstein's Pearls: Tiny cysts (white bumps) found on the roof of the mouth in newborns. These are common, non-problematic, and go away on their own.

Erb's Palsy: An injury to the nerves that supply the arm. This occurs as a result of a difficult delivery requiring the baby's head to be pulled forcefully. On examination, the arm will hang limp. The nerve injury usually heals in a year, but may require surgery or physical therapy.

Eruption Hematoma: This is just a bruise under the gum line that can occur as the tooth is breaking through the gums. It an look pretty darn impressive, swollen and blue or purple. No worries. It means a tooth will be arriving soon.

Erythema Toxicum: A normal newborn rash that looks like flea bites (white pimple with red around it). These tiny bumps come and go.

Esophagitis: The inflammation of the upper part of the gastrointestinal system (esophagus).

Estimated Due Date (EDD): The estimated date that a baby will be born

Estrogen: A female hormone produced in the ovaries.

Everted Nipple: A nipple that turns outward when stimulated.

Exclusive Breastfeeding (EBF): A type of feeding in which human milk is the only food provided to the baby. The World Health Organization (2008) indicates babies included in this category may also be receiving oral rehydration solution, vitamins and minerals, and/or other oral medications, but may not receive any other foods or fluids.

Exclusive Breastmilk Feeding (EBMF): A term used by The Joint Commission (2011) to describe those babies who are receiving only human milk.

Expanded Carrier Screening: A carrier screening technology that allows a large number of disorders to be screened for simultaneously.

Expressive Language Delays: A child whose ability to speak words is behind his peers. A child with this delay may have completely normal ability to understand and process language that he hears (see receptive language).

External Cephalic Version: A technique, performed late in pregnancy, in which the doctor manually attempts to move a breech baby into the head-down position.

Factor V Leiden: The name of a specific genetic change that can result in an increased chance of developing blood clots.

Failure to Thrive (FTT): A condition in which baby's growth is inadequate and requires medical evaluation. When a baby or child falls below the 3rd percentile on the weight curve. When the problem is a chronic one, height and head size also drop on the growth curves. FTT prompts a thorough medical evaluation.

Fallopian Tubes: Tubes through which an egg travels from the ovary to the uterus.

Familial Dysautonomia: An inherited autosomal recessive disease of childhood that affects the nervous system and can affect the perception of pain and temperature as well as digestion and movements.

Fanconi Anemia Group C: An inherited recessive disorder that causes a decrease in bone marrow function, physical abnormalities, and an increased risk of certain types of cancer.

Fat Necrosis: An occasional complication from vaccination injection. As a needle goes through the fat under the skin, it can injure it and create a firm lump. This lump may be present for several weeks after the injection is given. It is painless and not harmful.

Feeding Cues: Infant behaviors that indicate an interest in eating, including rapid eye movement, movement of hands near the face, rooting and seeking motions, and other behaviors.

Fertilization: Joining of the egg and sperm.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: The most severe disorder resulting from alcohol use during pregnancy. It can cause abnormalities in brain development, physical growth, and facial features.

Fetal Blood Sampling: A procedure in which a sample of blood is taken from the umbilical cord and tested.

Fetal Fibronectin: A protein that helps the amniotic sac stay connected to the inside of the uterus.

Fetal Growth Restriction: An abnormally small fetus whose estimated weight is less than 9 out of 10 fetuses of the same gestational age.

Fetus: The developing organism in the uterus from the ninth week of pregnancy until the end of pregnancy.

Fibroids: Benign growths that form in the muscle of the uterus.

Flaring (Nostrils): When an infant or young child is having trouble breathing (respiratory distress), he will use any additional methods his body can to get in more air. Nostrils will flare with each breath to try to capture more air. Thus, this is a red flag for respiratory distress.

Flat Nipple: A nipple that everts in response to stimulation but is otherwise not projected.

Fluorescence in Situ Hybridization: A laboratory technique that is used to screen for common chromosome problems, such as trisomy 21, in cells obtained by amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling. Results are available fairly quickly because the cells do not need to be grown in a culture prior to testing.

Folic Acid: A vitamin that has been shown to reduce the risk of certain birth defects when taken in sufficient amounts before and during pregnancy.

Follicle: A small cavity or sac.

Follicle-Stimulating Hormone (FSH): A hormone produced by the pituitary gland that helps an egg to mature.

Fomites: Objects handled by a person with an infection that subsequently allows passage of the germs to someone else.

Fontanelle: A space between the bones of the skull that allows room for the baby's head to pass through the birth canal and room for the baby's brain to grow after birth. The main fontanelle is on top of the head (anterior) and is sometimes called the baby's "soft spot." There is a smaller fontanelle in the back of the head (posterior). The anterior fontanelle closes between 9 to 18 months of age.

Forceps: Special instruments placed around the baby's head to help guide it out of the birth canal during delivery.

Foreign Body / Object: Term used to describe an object which has no place being where it is in someone's body. Kids have a way of putting objects like small toys in their noses, ears, etc. as well as swallowing them.

Foremilk: The milk present in the breast at the beginning of a breastfeed. It is less fatty than what comes out later (see hindmilk). If your breastfed baby is a snacker, he may not be getting the richer milk. For these babies, it is better to nurse on one breast per feeding.

Fraternal Twins: Twins that have developed from two fertilized eggs that are not genetically identical.

Frenulum: Membrane that supports or restricts the movement of a body part. For example, the lingual frenulum supports the tongue; the labial frenulum supports the lips.

Frenulectomy: The process of clipping the tissue at the tongue base to correct a "tongue tie" or ankyloglossia. This procedure can be performed in an office setting if the baby is less than a few weeks old.

Full Term: The period from 39 and 0/7 weeks through 40 and 6/7 weeks of gestation.

Galactocele: A milk-filled cyst in the breast, most likely caused by an obstructed duct.

Galactogogue: Foods or drinks given to the mother that are believed to increase milk production.

Galactose: A simple sugar that is a portion of lactose; the sugar present in milk.

Galactosemia: Congenital metabolic disorder causing inability of the body to use the simple sugar galactose, causing accumulation of galactose 1-phosphate in the body, which results in damage to the liver, central nervous system, and other body systems with permanent, even fatal, outcomes.

Gastroenteritis: An inflammation of the stomach and intestines caused by either a virus or bacteria. The inflammation can cause both vomiting and diarrhea. Viral gastroenteritis is commonly known as the "stomach flu" and tends to cause watery diarrhea. Bacterial gastroenteritis is commonly known as "food poisoning" and tends to cause diarrhea mixed with blood or mucous.

Gastroesophageal Reflux (GER, Acid Reflux): The backflow of food and liquids from the stomach into the esophagus (and often all the way to the mouth). This is a common problem for newborns up to age one year. The muscle that separates the esophagus and the stomach (lower esophageal sphincter) is relatively loose in infants, allowing food to travel down to the stomach (good) and back up to the esophagus (not good). Once food contents make it to the stomach, they are mixed with stomach acid. So, when this partially digested food goes backwards, the stomach acid can irritate the esophagus, cause discomfort, and sometimes wheezing or coughing (GERD - Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease). Most babies outgrow this problem by age one.

Gastrointestinal (GI): Having to do with the stomach and intestinal tract.

Gastroschisis: A birth defect in which a hole is formed in the abdominal wall of the fetus through which the bowel can stick out. It can be can be diagnosed prenatally with ultrasound and is treated with surgery after birth.

Gaucher Disease: An inherited genetic disorder in which a substance called glucosylceramidase builds up in cells of the liver, spleen, lymph nodes, lungs, and bone marrow and causes impairment of the liver and the nervous system. The signs and symptoms vary widely and range from mild to severe.

Gene: A segment of DNA that contains instructions for the development of a person's physical traits and control of the processes in the body. It is the basic unit of heredity and can be passed down from parent to offpsring.

General Anesthesia: The use of drugs that produce a sleep-like state to prevent pain during surgery.

Genetic Counselor: A health care professional with special training in genetics and counseling who can provide expert advice about genetic disorders and prenatal testing.

Genetic Disorder: A term for a disorder caused by a change in genes or chromosomes.

Geneticist: A specialist in genetics.

Genital Herpes: A sexually transmitted infection caused by a virus that produces painful, highly infectious sores on or around the sex organs.

Gestational: Regarding the period from conception to birth.

Gestational Age: The age of a pregnancy calculated from the number of weeks that have elapsed from the first day of the last normal menstrual period.

Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM): Diabetes that arises during pregnancy.

Gestational Hypertension: New-onset high blood pressure that occurs after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Gestational Trophoblastic Disease (GTD): A rare disorder of pregnancy in which cells from the placenta grow abnormally and form a mass in the uterus.

Gingivitis: Inflammation of the gums.

Gingivostomatitis: Inflammation and irritation of the gums and lining of the mouth caused by the Oral Herpes virus. The amount of inflammation is usually extensive and may lead to refusal to eat or drink anything.

Glaucoma: Increased pressure behind the eye. Babies with hemangiomas near the eye need to be evaluated by an ophthalmologist because they are at risk for glaucoma.

Glucose: A sugar that is present in the blood and is the body's main source of fuel.

Goldsmith's Sign: The association of a baby's persistent refusal of one breast with possible breast cancer in the mother.

Gonorrhea: A sexually transmitted infection that may lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, and arthritis.

Group B Streptococci (GBS): A type of bacteria that normally lives in the digestive and reproductive tracts of men and women and that can be passed to a woman's baby during labor and delivery if she has the bacteria late in her pregnancy. GBS can cause serious infection in some newborns. Antibiotics can be given during labor and delivery to women at risk of passing the bacteria to their babies in order to prevent newborn infection.

Haberman Feeder: A feeding device designed for infants with cleft palates and other issues who are unable to suckle effectively. Fluid flows from this device on compression rather than suction.

Heart Murmur: A noise heard in addition to the normal heart sounds audible with a stethoscope. The murmur can be due to normal heart function (termed innocent, benign, or transitional). Or, it can be due to a structural defect of the heart or great blood vessels coming off of the heart (termed pathologic). The type of noise, location of the noise, and other abnormalities found on physical examination help determine the cause of the murmur. All murmurs do not require an echocardiogram and a cardiologist evaluation to determine the cause.

HELLP Syndrome: A severe type of preeclampsia; HELLP stands for hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, and low platelet count.

Hematoma: A blood-filled swelling resulting from a broken blood vessel.

Hemoglobinopathies: Any inherited disorder caused by changes in the structure of hemoglobin, a substance found in red blood cells that carries oxygen. Examples include sickle cell anemia, sickle cell disease, and the different forms of thalassemia.

Hemolytic Disease of the Newborn (HDN): A type of anemia that can affect a fetus or newborn that results from the breakdown of red blood cells by antibodies in the mother's blood.

Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS): A group of medical problems caused by some food poisoning (E coli, Shigella) infections. The problems include severe anemia, low platelet count, and kidney failure. HUS typically occurs in children ages 4 months to 4 years of age.

Hemophilia: A disorder caused by a mutated gene on the X chromosome. Affected individuals are usually males who lack a substance in the blood that helps it clot and are at risk of severe bleeding from even minor injuries.

Hemorrhage: Heavy bleeding.

Hemmorhagic Disease of the Newborn: A relatively common (1:200) problem of newborns who have a Vitamin K deficiency. Infants with this disorder can have severe bleeding. Because of this risk, all newborns receive a shot of Vitamin K shortly after they are born.

Henoch-Schonlein Purpura (HSP): Inflammation of the blood vessels (vasculitis) after a viral illness. Symptoms include a dramatic rash of raised bruised areas on the legs. Joint pain, abdominal pain, and blood in the urine also occur. Although the disease sounds and looks serious, 90% of children recover completely without any treatment. Occurs mostly in children aged 4 to 10 years.

Hepatitis: Inflammation of the liver.

Hepatitis A Virus: The virus that causes hepatitis A.

Hepatitis B Immune Globulin: A substance given to provide temporary protection against infection with hepatitis B virus.

Hepatitis B Virus (HBV): The virus that causes hepatitis B.

Hepatitis C Virus: The virus that causes hepatitis C.

Hernia: The term used to describe a bulging out of tissue or organ where it is not supposed to be. It occurs due to a weakness of a muscle wall. The most common types include: Diaphragmatic Hernia (abdominal organs protrude into chest), Femoral Hernia (intestines protrude into thigh), Inguinal Hernia (intestines protrude into groin), Umbilical Hernia (intestines protrude into belly button). The risk of all hernias is that the organ that is bulging out will get stuck in that position and cut off the blood supply to it. Umbilical hernias rarely get stuck (incarcerate), thus rarely require any treatment.

Herpes Zoster (Shingles): A disease caused by reactivation of the varicella zoster virus in those who have previously had varicella (chickenpox). It causes a painful rash and blisters.

High Blood Pressure: Blood pressure that is elevated above the normal level; also called hypertension.

Hindmilk: The milk in the breast toward the end of a feed. Typically fattier milk that comes out after several minutes of nursing. This milk can actually look yellow (like fat). Don't be alarmed, it's good stuff.

Hip Dysplasia: Also known as congenital hip dysplasia, or developmental dysplasia of the hip. This is a congenital abnormality where the leg bone is out of its socket at the hip. It is easily treated with a brace if detected in the first few months of life. Babies who are breech have a slightly higher risk of having this disorder.

Hirschprung's Disease: A congenital abnormality where the nerves of the rectum (intestinal exit) don't form. As a result, newborns cannot poop (stool) without assistance. Infants with severe constipation may have a partial defect and are also tested for this disorder. Treatment is surgical.

Histamine: A chemical compound the body produces in an allergic response. Histamine causes the characteristic "allergy symptoms" that people experience such as hives, itchy eyes, and congestion.

Hormones: Substances made in the body by cells or organs that control the function of cells or organs. An example is estrogen, which controls the function of female reproductive organs.

Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG): A hormone produced during pregnancy; its detection is the basis for most pregnancy tests.

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV): A virus that attacks certain cells of the body's immune system and causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).

Human Papilloma Virus (HPV): The name for a group of related viruses, some of which cause genital warts and some of which are linked to cervical changes and cancer of the cervix, vulva, vagina, penis, anus, and throat.

Hydatidiform Mole: Also known as molar pregnancy; a form of gestational trophoblastic disease that results when a sperm fertilizes an egg that does not contain any genetic material. A complete hydatidiform mole contains no fetal tissue. A partial mole contains some fetal tissue, but it is not able to grow or survive.

Hydramnios: A condition in which there is an excess amount of amniotic fluid in the sac surrounding the fetus.

Hydrocele: A fluid collection in a boy's scrotum. Rarely, it is associated with a hernia. Most of the time, the fluid is present at birth and goes away on its own by six months of life. It makes the boy's scrotum look unusually large.

Hydrocephalus: An abnormally large collection of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), the fluid that bathes the brain and spinal cord. This can be caused by excessive production, blockage of the collection pathway, or decreased absorption in the body. Symptoms include: bulging fontanelle (soft spot), headache, vomiting, enlarged head size, loss of developmental milestones, and abnormal neurologic exam.

Hyperbilirubinemia: High levels of bilirubin in the blood (see jaundice).

Hyperemesis Gravidarum: Severe nausea and vomiting during pregnancy  that can lead to loss to weight and body fluids.

Hypertension: High blood pressure.

Hyperthyroidism: A condition in which the thyroid glad makes too much thyroid hormone.

Hypoglycemia: Low blood sugar.

Hypospadias: A congenital abnormality where the urethra (tube that connects the bladder to the outside) opening is on the underside of the penis instead of in the middle. This requires surgical repair, usually after six months of age. Because the foreskin is used to perform the repair, these babies are not circumcised.

Hypothermia: Low body temperature.

Hypothyroidism: A condition in which the thyroid gland makes too little thyroid hormone. Thyroid hormone is an essential chemical needed for body metabolism. Babies with congenital hypothyroidism can become mentally retarded (cretins) if they are not treated. This is one of the screening tests performed in the state metabolic screen. The incidence of congenital hypothyroidism is 1:4000 newborns.

Hypotonia: Low muscle tone.

Hysterectomy: Removal of the uterus.

Hysterosalpingogram: An X-ray procedure with contract material used to view the inside of the uterus and fallopian tubes.

Hysteroscopic Sterilization: A sterilization procedure in which the opening of each fallopian tube is blocked with scar tissue formed by the insertion of small implants, preventing sperm from entering the fallopian tubes to fertilize an egg.

IDDM: Acronym for insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. Also called type 1 diabetes mellitus.

Identical Twins: Twins that have developed from a single fertilized egg that are usually genetically identical.

Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP): The destruction of platelets due to an autoimmune response in the body. Can occur after a viral illness. Because platelets are needed to clot blood, a low count causes bruising and petechiae. Some children need medication to help the body increase platelet production in the body, others bounce back on their own. The good news is that almost 90% of kids do beautifully and have no further problems after the one episode.

Immune System: The body's natural defense system against foreign substances and invading organisms, such as bacteria that cause disease.

Immunoglobulin: Group of proteins that provide immunity, including: IgA (causes passive systemic immune protection, blocks the adhesion of microbial pathogens onto the intestinal wall, and forms antibodies against bacteria and viruses), IgD (forms antibodies against bacteria), IgE (combines with antigens in the gut lumen and releases chemical mediators that cause increased vascular permeability), IgG (can activate complements, and acts against bacteria and viruses), IgM (forms antibodies against bacteria and viruses; retains activity after traversing the intestinal canal)

Imperforate Anus: A congenital abnormality where the anus (opening of the intestines to the outside) does not form completely. This abnormality is often associated with a combination of abnormalities called VATER syndrome. It is repaired surgically.

In Vitro Fertilization: A procedure in which an egg is removed from a woman's ovary, fertilized in a laboratory with the man's sperm, and then transferred to the woman's uterus to achieve a pregnancy.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD): Chronic swelling of the intestinal lining that results in bloody diarrhea. Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis are types of IBD. It is rare for a child under age two years to be diagnosed with this disorder.

Incontinence: Inability to control bodily functions such as urination.

Induced Abortion: The planned termination of a pregnancy before the fetus can survive outside the uterus.

Induced Lactation: Process of establishing a milk supply in a woman who has not given birth.

Inflammation: A localized reaction of tissue to the presence of items perceived to be foreign or other irritation, injury, or infection characterized by pain, redness, and swelling.

Influenza: An infection with the influenza virus that most commonly affects the respiratory tract. Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, cough, nasal congestion, and extreme fatigue. Complications can occur in severe cases, such as pneumonia and bronchitis. There are a number of different influenza virus types, including A, B, and C, and different strains, including 18 H types and 11 N types, e.g. H1N1 or "swine flu."

Inhaled Steroid: Medication used to control chronic asthma symptoms. The medication is administered via a machine that aerosolizes it (nebulizer) or via a handheld "inhaler." The inhaled method is preferable because most of the medication goes to the location it is intended to help (e.g. the lungs). Very little of the medicine gets absorbed into the bloodstream. This means there is less of the unwanted side effects and more therapeutic benefit.

Insulin: A hormone that lowers the levels of glucose (sugar) in the blood.

Internal Os: The internal opening of the cervix into the uterus.

Intestinal Obstruction: This is a general term to describe the blockage of the intestine. The gastrointestinal tract is like a big pipe, and in these terms, obstruction is a clogged pipe. This can occur due to intussusception, volvulus, malrotation (congenital defect), and hernias. Because the area is blocked, blood flow to the intestines decreases and may cause death of that tissue. This is a surgical emergency or an "acute abdomen." Symptoms include distended belly, vomiting bile.

Intrauterine Device (IUD): A small device that is inserted and left inside the uterus to prevent pregnancy.

Intravenous (IV) Line: A tube inserted into a vein that is used to deliver medication or fluids.

Intraventricular Hemorrhage (IVH): Bleeding within the brain area called the ventricles due to a weak, fragile matrix of blood vessels and blood pressure changes in premature babies. Premature babies born before 32 weeks gestation or less than three pounds are at risk for IVH, which most often occurs in the first five days of life. Some bleeds may be minor and have no significant long term consequences. Severe bleeds can be potentially fatal or have significant neurologic effects.

Intussusception: When a piece of intestine telescopes upon itself creating an intestinal obstruction. The most common time this occurs is between 6 and 18 months of age. Symptoms include intermittent abdominal pain with pulling up of the legs. Vomiting, and poop that looks like "currant jelly" also occur. This is an emergency. Diagnosis (and treatment) can be done with a special radiological study.

Inverted Nipple: A nipple that turns inward when stimulated.

Isotretinoin: A prescription medication used to treat acne that can cause severe birth defects if taken during pregnancy.

IUGR: Acronym for intrauterine growth retardation.

Jaundice: A buildup of bilirubin that causes a yellowish appearance. Condition that results when red blood cells break down faster than the liver can handle, causing a yellow color of the skin. In the newborn, normal physiologic jaundice is caused by the immaturity of the liver.

Karyotype: An image of a person's chromosomes, arranged in order of size.

Kawasaki Disease: An illness that causes the body's blood vessels to sweel (vasculitis). The cause is unknown. Occurs mostly in children under two years of age. Symptoms include: fever for five or more days straight, rash on the palms and soles, peeling skin on the fingertips, pink eye, bright red lips/tongue, swollen lymph nodes in the neck, general body rash, and irritable mood. The most severe complication is swelling of the arteries that supply the heart (coronary artery aneurysm). This disease is one of the reasons that doctors want to see a child who has had a fever for 5 consecutive days or more.

Kernicterus: Damage to the brain and central nervous system related to hyperbilirubinemia (jaundice), also known as bilirubin encephalopathy.

Kidney: One of two organs that cleanse the blood, removing liquid wastes.

Kidney Disease: A general term for any disease that affects how the kidneys function.

Labial Adhesion: A condition where the labia minora (smaller lips) of the vaginal opening get stuck together. This happens in little girls because they do not make estrogen hormone yet (pre-puberty). The amount of tissue that is stuck can vary. The problem is that the urethra (opening for the bladder) is located beneath the labia. If the lips are almost completely fused shut, estrogen cream (RX) is applied so that the urine can flow out more easily. Once the labia are unstuck, it is prudent to put Vaseline on the area at diaper changes to prevent them from resticking. All girls outgrow this condition once they hit puberty.

Labor: The process by which the fetus, umbilical cord, and placenta are expelled from the uterus.

Labor Dystocia: Abnormal labor.

Laborist: An obstetrician-gynecologist who is employed by a hospital or physician group and whose primary role is to care for laboring patients and to manage obstetric emergencies.

Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM): A temporary method of birth control that is based on the natural way the body prevents ovulation when a woman is breastfeeding. The method may be up to 98% effective if used correctly.

Lactiferous Duct: See milk duct.

Lactogenesis: Stages of development of the milk production process.

Lactose: A disaccharide (sugar) found only in mammalian milk.

Lactose Intolerant: Being unable to digest lactose, a sugar found in many dairy products.

Laminaria: Slender rods made of natural or synthetic material that expands when it absorbs water; they are inserted into the opening of the cervix to widen it.

Lanugo: The fine hair on the body of the fetus.

Laparoscope: An instrument that is inserted into the abdominal cavity through a small incision to view internal organs or to perform surgery.

Laparoscopic Sterilization: Sterilization that is performed by laparoscopy, a type of surgery that uses slender instruments inserted through small incisions in the abdomen.

Laparoscopy: A surgical procedure in which an instrument called a laparoscope is inserted into the pelvic cavity through a small incision. The laparoscope is used to view the pelvic organs. Other instruments can be used with it to perform surgery.

Laparotomy: A surgical procedure in which an incision is made in the abdomen.

Laryngomalacia: A floppy airway. Some babies are born with relaxed throat issue. When they breathe in, they make a high pitched squeaky noise (stridor). Babies outgrow this condition, often by age one. These babies get evaluated by an ear, nose, and throat specialist just to confirm the diagnosis. It does not affect their breathing and no treatment is needed.

Last Menstrual Period (LMP): The day of the first day of the last menstrual period before pregnancy that is used to estimate the date of delivery.

Late-Term Pregnancy: The period from 41 and 0/7 weeks through 41 and 6/7 weeks of pregnancy.

Laxative: A product that is used to empty the bowels.

LBW: Acronym for low birth weight (infant weights less than 

LCP: Acronym for lactation care provider.

Letdown Reflex: The milk ejection reflex; the spontaneous ejection of milk from the breast.

Leukemia: Abnormal production of body's blood cells which then leads to failure of the bone marrow to produce normal blood cells necessary for body functioning. Symptoms include: fever, fatigue, paleness of the skin, excessive bruising, petechiae, and joint pain.

LGA: Acronym for large for gestational age.

Linea Nigra: A line running from the navel to pubic hair that darkens during pregnancy.

Listeriosis: A type of food-borne illness caused by bacteria that is found in unpasteurized milk, hot dogs, luncheon meats, and smoked seafood.

Live, Attenuated Influenza Vaccine: An influenza vaccine containing live viruses that have been altered to not cause disease. It is given as a nasal spray. It is not recommended for pregnant women.

Local Anesthesia: The use of drugs that prevent pain in a part of the body.

Lochia: Vaginal discharge that occurs after delivery.

Low Birth Weight (LBW): Weighing less than 2,500 grams (or 5 pounds, 8 ounces) at birth.

Lupus: An autoimmune disorder that causes changes in the joints, skin, kidneys, lungs, heart, or brain.

Luteinizing Hormone (LH): A hormone produced by the pituitary gland that helps an egg to mature and be released.

Macrocephaly: Official term to describe a big head. Most of the time, a child's big head is due to his genes (e.g. someone else in the family has a big head). But, if the head size percentile is enlarging or if there are other concerning symptoms, a doctor may evaluate the head with an imaging study to rule out hydrocephalus or a brain tumor.

Macrosomia: A condition in which a fetus grows very large.

Magnesium Sulfate: A drug that may help prevent cerebral palsy when it is given to women in preterm labor who are at risk of delivery before 32 weeks of pregnancy.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): A method of viewing internal organs and structures by using a strong magnetic field and sound waves.

Malabsorption: When the intestine is not performing its job of digesting food. The result is a watery, foul smelling diarrhea. Some causes of chronic malabsorption are celiac disease and cystic fibrosis. This deserved to be checked out.

Malaise: A sense of weakness or illness.

Malignant: A term used to describe cells or tumors that are able to invade tissue and spread to other parts of the body.

Malnutrition: A state in which the baby is either overfed, underfed, or unable to correctly utilize the food he or she is receiving.

Malpresentation: A condition in which a fetus is in a head-down position with the head flexed prior to birth.

Malrotation: A congenital abnormality in the development of the intestines. The abnormal position creates a problem with blood flow to the intestines as well as potential for obstruction of food transit. Newborns with their problem have vomiting, constipation, and abdominal pain. Treatment is surgical.

Mastitis: Infection of the breast tissue that can occur during breastfeeding. Inflammation in the breast causing localized tenderness, redness, and heat. Mother may have a fever; feel tired, achy, or nauseous; or have a headache. Mastitis may or may not be an infective process.

Masturbation: A normal behavior of exploring one's sexual organs. Both boys and girls do it.

Maternal-Fetal Medicine Subspecialist: An obstetrician-gynecologist with additional training in caring for women with high-risk pregnancies; also called a perinatologist.

Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) Vaccine: A vaccine against measles, mumps, and rubella that contains live viruses that have been altered to not cause disease. It is not recommended for pregnant women.

Meconium: A greenish substance that builds up in the bowels of a growing fetus. First stool of a newborn, varying from greenish black to light brown with a tarry consistency.

Meconium Ileus: A failure of the newborn's poop (meconium) to pass because of abnormally thick intestinal secretions. This condition is associated with cystic fibrosis.

Meconium Plug: A delay in passing of the newborn's first poop (meconium). This usually responds to rectal stimulation (e.g. taking a rectal temperature).

Melanin: A dark pigment that gives color to the skin and hair.

Melasma: A common skin problem that causes brown to gray-brown patches on the face. Also known as "chloasma" or "mask of pregnancy."

Meningitis: Inflammation of the tissues that line the brain and the spinal cord. This can be caused by a virus, bacteria, or by tuberculosis. Symptoms include: headache, vomiting, TRUE IRRITABILITY (e.g. inconsolable), bulging fontanelle (soft spot), fever, neck stiffness, seizures, petechiae. This is a medical emergency.

Meningococcal Disease: Inflammation of the coverings of the brain and spinal cord (meninges) caused by a bacterium called meningococcus.

Metabolic Disorder: A broad term that describes disorders in breaking down foods (see metabolic storage disease below). These disorders are different than endocrine disorders, which involve abnormal levels of body hormones (e.g. thyroid disease, diabetes, adrenal disease).

Metabolic Storage Disease (Inborn Errors of Metabolism): A group of diseases that all cause an inability to break down certain food products. As a result, byproducts of metabolism accumulate. In some of these disorders this accumulation goes to body parts (liver, heart, brain, kidney, eye) causing permanent damage or even death. The more common storage diseases are tested for on the state metabolic screens (PKU, galactosemia).

Metabolism: The physical and chemical processes in the body that maintain life.

Microarray: A technology that examines all of a person's genes to look for certain genetic disorders or abnormalities. Microarray technology can find very small genetic variations that have gone undetected by conventional genetic tests.

Microcephaly: Abnormal smallness of the head. Head size is often hereditary. Families with small heads have small headed babies. However, if a child's head size percentile is plateauing or decreasing, an imaging study may be done to look for craniosynostosis.

Milia: A normal newborn rash on the nose that look like pinpoint white dots. These go away on their own.

Miliaria: A normal newborn rash that looks like prickly heat. This goes away on its own.

Milk Duct: Narrow tube structure that carries milk to the nipple.

Milk Ejection Reflex: Reflex initiated by the production of the hormone oxytocin that causes the contraction of myoepithelial cells, ejecting milk from the milk sinuses.

Milk Protein Allergy: Milk contains protein, sugar, and fat. Some babies (about 2%) have an allergy to the protein component that causes inflammation and irritation of the intestine lining. This leads to diarrhea that can be mixed with blood or mucous. A significant percentage of babies who are allergic to milk protein are also allergic to soy protein. The good news is that most kids outgrow this problem.

Mitigate: To alleviate or make milder.

Miscarriage: Loss of a pregnancy that occurs before 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Modified Biophysical Profile: A modified version of the biophysical profile that is used to monitor fetal well-being; it usually includes a fetal heart rate assessment and assessment of the amount of amniotic fluid.

Mongolian Spots: A bruise like discoloration found on the buttocks of darker pigmented newborns. These spots fade over several years. No treatment is needed.

Monoamniotic-Monochorionic: Describes twin embryos formed from the same egg that develop within a single gestational sac surrounded by an inner layer (the amnion) and outer layer (the chorion) of membranes. These twins share a single placenta and are identical (have the same genetic material).

Monosomy: A condition in which there is a missing chromosome.

Montgomery Glands: Small tubercles in the areola of the breast that contain both sebaceous and mammary lobes. These glands become more marked in pregnancy and secrete a fluid that lubricates the nipple area.

Moro Reflex: A response present in the normal infant from the third trimester through the 4th or 5th month after birth. When pulled up from a lying position and then released, the infant will spread its arms, then fold them back to the body, usually crying.

MRSA: Acronym for methycillin-resistant Staphylococcus-aureus, a drug-resistant bacterium.

Mucolipidosis IV: Also known as Morquio syndrome, an inherited autosomal recessive disorder that mainly affects the bones and skeletal development and also causes visual impairment. It is caused by a change in a protein that helps transport substances into and out of cells.

Mucosa: The lining of body cavities that produces mucus (a viscous secretion containing mucin).

Multifetal Pregnancy Reduction: A first-trimester or early second-trimester procedure for reducing by one or more the total number of fetuses in a multifetal pregnancy.

Multipara ("Multip"): A woman who has given birth to multiple babies.

Multiple Pregnancy: A pregnancy in which there are two or more fetuses.

Mutation: A permanent change in a gene that can be passed on from parent to child.

Myoepithelial Cells: Smooth muscle cells that encircle the alveoli and ducts of the breast. Contraction of these cells causes the outward flow of milk.

Myometrium: The muscular layer of the uterus.

Narcotics: Drugs that cause insensibility or stupor.

Nasolacrimal Duct Obstruction (Blocked Tear Duct): Babies have narrow tear ducts that lead out to the corner of the eyes. Occasionally, the tube gets clogged. Tears, which are usually watery, get thick from being backed up. The result is goopy fluid that comes out of the eyes. This can happen intermittently for the first year of life. You can help open up the duct by massaging gently just below the corner of the eye near the nose. I usually refer patients to an eye doctor if this is happening beyond a year of age. The difference between blocked tear ducts and pink eye (infection) is that the eye is not red or irritated.

Natal Teeth: Every once in a blue moon, a baby is born with a tooth. These usually fall out spontaneously and the real baby teeth come in at the normal time, between 6-12 months.

NCHS: Acronym for the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics.

Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU): A specialized area of a hospital in which ill newborns receive complex medical care.

Neonatologist: A doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders that affect newborn infants.

Neural Tube Defect (NTD): A birth defect that results from incomplete development of the brain, spinal cord, or their coverings. Many of these disorders can be detected prenatally via an abnormal AFP test or an ultrasound. These disorders vary in severity. The most severe form is lack of brain formation (anencephaly). The least severe form is spina bifida occulta (see sacral dimple), where there is completely normal nerve function.

Neurofibromatosis (NF): An autosomal dominant disorder that causes changes in the nervous system, muscles, bones, and skin and tumors called neurofibromas. Babies are often born without symptoms, although some will have three or more cafe au lait spots at birth. As a child grows, he develops numerous (more than five) cafe au lai spots and freckles in the armpit and groin areas. The tumors on the nerves grow later and can be seen as large bumps under the skin. Most of these tumors are benign (not cancerous), but can occur in dangerous places (e.g. eye, ear, brain, kidney). Children with this disorder are seen regularly by a number of doctors. The diagnosis of NF is not made on the presence of cafe au lait spots alone; this is only one of several symptoms and signs. Most children with a few cafe au lait spots do not have NF.

Nevus Flammeus (Stork Bite, Angel Kiss): These are newborn birthmarks located at the nape of the neck, eyelids, and forehead. They are bright pink in color. The marks on the face fade over the first year of life. The marks on the neck can last forever. These marks are not associated with cancer.

Newborn Nasal Congestion: All newborns have snotty noses.They will sneeze, snort, cough, and snore. This lasts for 4-6 weeks. If it does not interfere with feedings or sleep, do nothing. If it is causing a problem, use saline nose drops to flush the nose before feedings or bedtime.

Niemann-Pick Disease Type A: An inherited disorder that affects fat metabolism and transport through the body. It causes harmful amounts of a substance called sphingomyelin to accumulate in cells of the liver, spleen, lungs, bone marrow, and brain. Children born with this disorder die by age 4 years.

Nine Stages: The nine instinctive behavioral stages newborn babies go through in the first hours after birth.

Nonnutritive Sucking: Sucking that causes little or no milk secretion, associated with eight or more sucks per swallow.

Nonstress Test (NST): A test in which changes in the fetal heart rate are recorded using an electronic fetal monitor.

Normal Fullness: Breast fullness that occurs when the milk is "coming in." Extra blood and lymph are brought to the breast. The breasts may feel warm, full, and heavy.

Nuchal Translucency Screening: A test in which the size of a collection of fluid at the back of fetal neck is measured by ultrasound to screen for certain birth defects, such as Down syndrome, trisomy 18, or heart defects.

Nursing Caries: These are cavities; the result of feeding a baby during the night after his come in. If you don't wipe teeth off after a midnight snack of breastmilk / formula / milk (which all contain sugar), the sugar will sit on the teeth and make a nice place for plaque and subsequent cavities.

Nutrients: Nourishing substances supplied through food, such as vitamins and minerals.

Nutritive Sucking: Sucking that causes milk flow, typically thought of as one or two sucks per swallow.

Obesity: A condition characterized by excessive body fat.

Obstetrician-Gynecologist: A physician with special skills, training, and education in women's health.

Oligohydramnios: Low levels of amniotic fluid.

Omphalitis: A belly button infection. The umbilical stump and skin surrounding it looks red and swollen. There is a foul odor coming from it. If this occurs in a newborn, it usually requires admission to a hospital for intravenous (IV) antibiotics.

Operative Vaginal Delivery: Vaginal delivery of a baby performed with the use of forceps or a vacuum.

Orbital Cellulitis: A serious infection that involves the tissue surrounding the eye. It is caused by a sinus infection that spreads into the area. Symptoms include: limited eye motion, bulging of the eyeball, eyelid swelling, eye pain, and fever. This is the reason that doctors want to see children who have eyelid swelling and a fever.

Orgasm: The climax of sexual excitement.

Orthotic: A custom made shoe insert designed by a podiatrist to provide arch support for people who are flat-footed. The AAP does not currently recommend orthotics for babies and young children.

Otitis Media: Middle ear infection. Acute otitis media refers to an active infection that came up shortly before it is diagnosed in the office. Serous otitis media (or otitis media with effusion) refers to residual fluid that remains after the active infection is over.

Otitis Externa (Swimmer's Ear): Literally, external ear inflammation. This is really an infection of the skin that lines the ear canal. It is caused by water that pools in the ear canal and allows germs to grow. Symptoms include pain with touching the ear itself, swelling and redness of the canal, and sometimes a fever. This is uncommon in the under one age group.

Ovaries: A pair of organs in the female reproductive system that contain the eggs released at ovulation and produce hormones.

Oversupply: A condition of excess milk production.

Ovulation: The release of an egg from one of the ovaries.

Oxygen: A gas that is necessary to sustain life.

Oxytocin: A hormone made in a part of the brain called the hypothalamus that causes the uterus to contract and milk to be released into the milk ducts of the breast during breastfeeding. A synthetic form of oxytocin can be given as a drug to induce labor contractions or make them stronger.

Paraphimosis: The foreskin gest stuck behind the head of the penis in an uncircumcised boy. This causes lots of swelling and pain.

Parvovirus: A virus that can be passed to the fetus during pregnancy. In rare cases, the infection can cause severe anemia that can result in heart failure and fetal death.

Patent: Refers to milk ducts that are connected or open, rather than blocked.

Pathogen: Any disease-producing agent, such as a bacterium, fungus, protozoon, or virus.

Pathologist: A specialist in pathology; a physician who examines tissues and performs or interprets the results of lab tests.

Pelvic Exam: A physical examination of a woman's reproductive organs.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease: An infection of the uterus, fallopian tubes, and nearby pelvic structures.

Pelvic Organ Prolapse: A condition in which pelvic organs, such as the uterus or bladder, drop downward. It is caused by weakening of the muscles and tissues that support these organs.

Penile Adhesions: The head of the penis sticks to the shaft skin. In boys who are circumcised, it is important to visualize the edge of the head at diaper changes and clean the area of any debris (smegma). If the skin starts to get stuck together, try gently pulling down at the base of the penis to separate the area.

Perforated Eardrum: Occurs with severe middle ear infection. A small hole in the eardrum lets the pus drain. It is the equivalent of a pimple popping and draining. Pus and blood will be seen draining out of the ear canal.

Perinatal: Around the time of birth, both pre- and postpartum.

Perineum: The area between the vagina and the anus.

Periodic Breathing: Newborns do not breathe in a regular pattern. They breathe 30-60 times a minute, but very erratically. There may be a stretch of several pants in a row, then a long p-a-u-s-e, then a big breath. That is normal, as long as that pause is less than ten seconds.

Periodontal Disease: A group of conditions that affect the surrounding and supporting tissues of the teeth.

Pertussis: Also known as whooping cough; a highly contagious infection of the respiratory system that causes a severe cough and can result in difficulty breathing. A vaccine called tetanus toxoid, reduced diphtheria toxoid, and acellular pertussis (Tdap) can be given to prevent pertussis.

Pervasive Developmental Delay (PDD): A disorder of development that falls into the category of Autism Spectrum Disorders. Children with PDD are higher functioning and capable of limited social interactions. They may also have more language skills than those who are severely affected.

pH: A measure of acidity / alkalinity of a substance expressed on a scale of 0 to 14, where 0 is the most acidic, 7 is neutral, and 14 is the most alkaline (basic).

Phenylalanine: An essential amino acid.

Phenylketonuria (PKU): An inherited disease resulting in the inability to digest phenylalanine. People with this diagnosis must avoid phenylalanine due to the risk of brain damage. The incidence is 1:10,000. People with this disorder need to have a special diet.

Phimosis: Inability to pull the foreskin of an uncircumcised boy's penis back. In severe cases, circumcision is necessary to fix the problem.

Phototherapy: The term used for treatment of moderate-severe jaundice (hyperbilirubinemia). A jaundiced baby is placed in a blue light source (either via "bili" blanket or bank of lights). The lights help to breakdown the bilirubin. For babies who are mildly jaundiced, it is not recommended to place an undressed baby near a sunny window in the house; that doesn't help and makes the baby uncomfortable.

Pica: The urge to eat nonfood items.

Pierre Robin Sequence: A group of malformations of the face that are present from birth. Effects of this sequence can include small lower jaw, clefts of the palate, and problems with tongue coordination and breathing.

Pituitary Infarct: Death of an area of tissue in the pituitary gland, which is found in the brain.

Placenta: Tissue that provides nourishment to and takes waste away from the fetus.

Placenta Accreta: A condition in which part or all of the placenta attaches abnormally to and is inseparable from the uterine wall.

Placental Abruption: A condition in which the placenta has begun to separate from the inner wall of the uterus before the baby is born.

Placenta Previa: A condition in which the placenta lies very low in the uterus, so that the opening of the uterus is partially or completely covered.

Pneumococcal Disease: Diseases that cause pneumonia, an infection of the lungs.

Pneumonia: Lung inflammation caused primarily by infection. Both viruses and bacteria can cause pneumonia. The tiny air sacs (alveoli) fill up with pus and prevent air exchange. Symptoms include fever, cough, chest pain, and respiratory distress.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome: A hormonal condition among women that is a major cause of infertility.

Polydactyly: When there are more than 5 fingers or toes on a hand or a foot. The extra digit can be removed.

Polyhydramnios: An abnormally high amount of amniotic fluid.

Port Wine Stain: This is a large, red/purple, flat birthmark that occurs on one side of the face or limb. These do not fade over time and are mostly a cosmetic issue. If the birthmark covers the eyelid, a child is evaluated for glaucoma. Any time it occurs on the forehead or eye, a child is also evaluated for a brain abnormality (Sturge-Weber syndrome).

Posterior Urethral Valves: A congenital defect of the formation of the urethra (tube that connects the bladder to the outside). There are valves that normally push the urine (pee) outwards. In this condition, the valves push the urine backwards into the urinary tract. This is rare, and only occurs in boys.

Postpartum Depression: Intense feelings of sadness, anxiety, or despair after childbirth that interfere with a new mother's ability to function and that do not go away after 2 weeks.

Postpartum Endometritis: Infection of the lining of the uterus following childbirth.

Postpartum Hemorrhage: Heavy bleeding that occurs after delivery of a baby and placenta.

Postpartum Sterilization: A permanent procedure that prevents a woman from becoming pregnant; performed soon after the birth of a child.

Post-Term Pregnancy: A pregnancy that has reached or extends beyond 42 and 0/7 weeks.

Post-Tussive Emesis: The Latin words for "after-cough" vomiting. Babies and young children have overactive gag reflexes. So a forceful cough might bring up lunch. All vomiting in children is not due to an upset stomach.

Preauricular Pits and Tags: Minor congenital defects of the formation of the external ear. The pits are due to remnants of a cyst that occurred prior to birth. Pits are rarely associated with hearing disorders. The tags are extra pieces of skin. If severe, these can be removed for cosmetic reasons.

Preconception: Before pregnancy.

Preconception Care: Medical care that is given before pregnancy to improve the chances of a healthy pregnancy; it includes a physical exam; counseling about nutrition, exercise, and medications; and treatment of certain medical conditions.

Predominant Breastfeeding: The feeding of both mother's milk as well as water, water-based drinks, ritual foods (such as teas), oral rehydration solution, vitamins, minerals, and oral medications to the baby.

Preeclampsia: A disorder that can occur during pregnancy or after childbirth in which there is high blood pressure and other signs of organ injury, such as an abnormal amount of protein in the urine, a low number of platelets, abnormal kidney or liver function, pain over the upper abdomen, fluid in the lungs, or a severe headache or changes in vision.

Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis: A type of genetic testing that can be done during in vitro fertilization. Tests are performed on the fertilized egg before it is transferred to the uterus.

Premature Rupture of Membranes (PROM): A condition in which the membranes that hold the amniotic fluid rupture before labor.

Prenatal Care: A program of care for a pregnant woman before the birth of her baby.

Presentation: A term that describes the part of the fetus that is lowest in the vagina during labor.

Preterm: Born before 37 weeks of pregnancy.

Preterm Premature Rupture of Membranes (Preterm PROM): Rupture of the amniotic membranes that occurs before 37 weeks of pregnancy and before the onset of labor.

Primipara ("Primip"): A woman who is giving birth for the first time.

Prodrome: A symptom that precedes the onset of a disease.

Progesterone: A female hormone that is produced in the ovaries and that prepares the lining of the uterus for pregnancy.

Prolactin: Hormone that stimulates the production of milk.

Prostaglandins: Chemicals that are made by the body that have many effects, including causing the muscle of the uterus to contract, usually causing cramps.

Proteinuria: The presence of an abnormal amount of protein in the urine.

Pseudostrabismus: The false appearance that a child looks cross-eyed or has a lazy eye due to the child's facial structure. Babies and young children are often referred to a pediatric ophthalmologist for concerns of a lazy eye (esotropia, amblyopia) and are ultimately diagnosed with this benign entity. But, it is better to be on the safe side and check out any concerns.

Pustular Melanosis: A normal newborn rash found in darker pigmented babies. The original rash looks like little pimples. As the lesions fade, they leave a temporary brown freckle. Some babies have hundreds of these freckles. They go away on their own.

Pyelonephritis: An infection of the kidneys. In an acute infection, a child has fever, back pain, and pain with urination. Infants under 6 months of age with a bladder infection routinely get admitted to the hospital because there is a greater risk of the infection extending into the kidneys.

Pyloric Stenosis: A narrowing of the outlet from the stomach to the small intestine due to a congenital abnormality in the muscle (pylorus). Babies (more commonly males) will have projectile (really impressive) vomiting at every feeding starting between 2 and 4 weeks of life. The vomiting may start out in a small way, but progressively gets worse and more projectile. Delay in seeking medical attention results in dehydration. Treatment is surgical, by making a cut in the muscle.

Quickening: The mother's first feeling of movement of the fetus.

Raynaud's Syndrome: Vasoconstriction and reduced blood flow to an extremity of the body in response to cold stress.

Rectum: The last part of the digestive tract.

Refractive Errors: This fancy term means that one cannot focus on image perfectly in the eye (retina). It includes near-sightedness, far-sightedness, astigmatism, and amblyopia.

Relactation: Process of reestablishing adequate milk production in a mother who has a greatly reduced milk production or who has stopped breastfeeding.

Respiratory Distress Syndrome (RDS): A condition of some babies in which the lungs are not mature and causes breathing difficulties. If a child cannot successfully get enough oxygen in with each breath, he will breathe faster, heavier, and use chest wall muscles to get as much air in as possible. This equates to a child who is panting, grunting, flaring his nostrils, and retracting (sucking in of the ribcage).

Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV): This is a virus that causes different symptoms depending on the age, and health status of the person. Healthy adults may have an RSV infection and feel like they have a cold. A premature baby may have complete respiratory collapse and need hospitalization. A healthy 6 month old may have a ton of nasal secretions, wheeze, and breathe at twice his normal respiratory rate but not have any distress. RSV shows up every year between November and April in the northern hemisphere.

Respiratory System: The body system that allows oxygen to be absorbed into the bloodstream and carbon dioxide to be removed from the body. The main organs of the respiratory system are the nose, larynx (voice box), trachea (windpipe), and lungs.

Retinoblastoma: A malignant tumor of the eye that occurs in babies. Fortunately, this is quite rare. This is one of the important reasons we do an eye exam in the nursery.

Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP): Incomplete growth of blood vessels in the eyes due to premature birth. Babies born at less than 32 weeks gestation are at the greatest risk of ROP. The growth of the blood vessels need to be monitored regularly by a pediatric ophthalmologist to head off any abnormalities, such as retinal folding/detachment, or permanent vision defects.

Retractions: The term used to describe the sucking in of the ribcage when a child has respiratory distress. Retractions occur when the body starts using the chest wall muscles to pull more air in with each breath. With phone encounters, we will ask you to look at how your child is breathing to tell us if he has retractions.

Rh Factor: A protein that can be present on the surface of red blood cells.

Rh Immunoglobulin (Rhlg): A substance given to prevent an Rh-negative person's antibody response to Rh-positive blood cells.

Rh Sensitization: The presence of Rh antibodies in the bloodstream of an Rh-negative person. It happens when an Rh-negative person's blood comes into contact with Rh-positive blood.

Rickets: Malformation of growing bones in children most commonly due to Vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D is necessary for calcium to be deposited into the bone (which makes them hard). Bones will form with a bent shape because they are softer than they should be.

Rooming-In: A bonding approach in which the mother and baby share the same hospital room, beginning as soon as possible after birth.

Rooting Reflex: Natural instinct of the newborn to turn his or her head toward the nipple and open his or her mouth when the mouth area is gently stroked with the nipple. Babies lose this primitive reflex by 3-6 months of age.

Rubella: A virus that can be passed to the fetus if a woman becomes infected during pregnancy and that can cause miscarriage or severe birth defects.

Sacral Dimple: This is a tiny divot, or dimple in the lower portion of the back. These can be associated with a minor abnormality of neural tube development called spina bifida occulta. The L5-S1 vertebrae bone is slightly abnormal but the spinal cord (nerve) is formed normally. Most babies with sacral dimples are unaffected and do not need evaluation or treatment.

Sciatica: Pain or numbness anywhere along the course of the sciatic nerve, typically occurring from the buttock down the back of the leg. It sometimes is associated with weakness of the leg muscles that are controlled by the sciatic nerve.

Screening Tests: Tests that look for possible signs of disease in people who do not have symptoms.

Seborrhea (Dandruff, Cradle Cap): A skin problem that causes greasy, flaky, and sometimes red skin in areas where "sebaceous glands" reside, typically the scalp, ears, beside the nose, eyebrows. Many babies are afflicted with this and outgrow it. Teenagers can also get seborrhea and have it for a lifetime. Treatment includes anti-dandruff shampoos, low potency steroid creams/lotions, and vegetable oil to loosen up the flakes in the scalp.

Secondhand Smoke: Tobacco smoke that is breathed from being in the presence of others who are smoking.

Sedative: A drug that eases nervousness or tension.

Seizure Disorders: Any condition that causes seizures, in which abnormal brain nerve cell electrical activity results in a change in movement, consciousness, mood, or emotions. Epilepsy is one kind of seizure disorder.

Self-Attached: Referring to the baby's ability to find, attach to, and suckle from the breast during the first weeks postpartum.

Sensory Processing Disorder: A constellation of behaviors stemming from an inability to process and adapt to stimuli of the 5 senses. Children with this disorder have trouble with activities of daily living and social encounters (aversion to textured foods, dislike of socks and tags on clothing, avoidance of messy activities, avoidance of being touched...) Diagnosis occurs most frequently in pre-school or school aged children.

Sepsis: A condition in which pathogens are present in the blood. It is a serious condition that can be life threatening.

Serous Otitis Media: Fluid in the middle ear space. This fluid can be present several weeks to months after an acute infection (e.g. acute otitis media). This fluid is sterile (free of bugs), but has the potential to get re-infected. Antibiotics are not usually necessary or helpful to clear the fluid.

Sex-Linked Disorder: A genetic disorder caused by a change in a gene or genes that are located on the sex chromosomes.

Sexual Intercourse: The act of the penis of the male entering the vagina of the female (also called "having sex" or "making love").

Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI): An infection that is spread by sexual contact, including chlamydia, gonorrhea, human papillomavirus infection, herpes, syphilis, and infection with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV, the cause of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome [AIDS]).

SF: Acronym for soy formula or soy fed.

SGA: Acronym for small for gestational age.

Sheehan's Syndrome: Damage to the pituitary gland (cased by postpartum hemorrhage), resulting in the inability to produce pituitary hormones, including prolactin.

Shoulder Dystocia: A situation during childbirth in which one or both of the baby's shoulders does not deliver easily after delivery of the head. This happens to a mom with a small pelvis or a big baby. Occasionally, the collar bone (clavicle) breaks during delivery. It heals nicely without any residual problems.

Sickle Cell Anemia: An inherited disorder in which red blood cells have a crescent shape, causing chronic anemia and episodes of pain. It occurs most often in African Americans.

SIDS: Acronym for sudden infant death syndrome. See crib death.

Skin to Skin: The practice of holding the infant so that his or her bare chest is against that of the mother or father (baby held under the parent's clothing and covered as needed for warmth). This technique has been demonstrated to help the baby regulate heart rate, respiratory rate, and body temperature and facilitates early breastfeeding.

Skin Tags: These are tiny pieces of raised skin that can occur anywhere on the body. In the newborn, they are most frequently found in front of the ear (preauricular tag) or on the vagina. They are not problematic and require no intervention.

SNS: Acronym for supplemental nursing system, a type of at-breast supplementer.

Sperm: A cell produced in the male testes that can fertilize a female egg.

Spina Bifida: A neural tube defect that results from incomplete closure of the fetal spine. There is a spectrum of severity of the defect. Most severe defects cause paralysis of the legs and body parts supplied by the affected nerves (bowel, bladder function). The incidence of spina bifida is decreasing as more women are taking prenatal vitamins (folic acid) during pregnancy.

Spinal Block: A type of regional anesthesia or analgesia in which pain medications are administered into the spinal fluid.

Station: A measurement in numbers that describes the location of the presenting part of the fetus relative to a part of the mother's pelvis called the ischial spines.

Stem Cells: Cells with the ability to become (differentiate into) specialized cells.

Sterilization: A permanent method of birth control.

Stevens-Johnson Syndrome: A serious allergic reaction that can be fatal.

Stillbirth: Delivery of a dead baby.

Strabismus: An abnormal alignment of the eyes.

Strawberry Hemangioma: A birthmark made of a collection of blood vessels. The vessels grow and enlarge for the first few years of life. So, the birthmark gets bigger. The good news is that the vessels shrink up and disappear, usually by age five. Surgery is usually not done to remove these. However, laser therapy may be helpful for lesions on the eyes, nose, or lips. Some parents choose to use topical medication to shrink the blood vessels.

Stridor: A high-pitched wheezing sound. A squeaky noise with breathing in that can be heard without a stethoscope. In newborns, it is usually caused by laryngomalacia. In any other situation, it is a sign of respiratory distress at the level of the throat. Children with severe croup infection have a very swollen airway if they have stridor. If your child has stridor, call your doctor immediately.

Sturge Weber Syndrome: A serious disorder that includes brain abnormalities in combination with a port wine stain on the face. Brain atrophy, seizures, and paralysis can occur.

Subconjunctival Hemorrhage: Broken blood vessel on the surface of the eye. Most often, this occurs in a newborn after delivery. It's not serious (even though it can look worrisome to a new patient). It can take a few weeks to resolve on its own.

Submucosal Cleft: An opening in the bone above the roof of the palate that is covered with normal skin lining and is therefore more difficult to identify.

Sucking: Drawing into the mouth by forming a partial vacuum with the lips and tongue.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS): The unexpected death of an infant and in which the cause is unknown.

Supplementary Feeding: The giving of food other than breastmilk to an infant to replace breastmilk calories.

Supranumerary Nipple (Accessory Nipple): These are extra, nonfunctional nipples found along the same vertical line as the nipples themselves. They are not problematic. They can be removed for cosmetic reasons.

Supraventricular Tachycardia (SVT): The heart beats at an extraordinarily faster pace (over 200 beats per minute) because a faulty electrical circuitry in the heart. The abnormality may be detected if a baby appears pale, has trouble feeding, or is extremely irritable.

Surfactant: A substance produced by cells in the respiratory system that contributes to the elasticity of the lungs and keeps them from collapsing.

Symptothermal: A method of fertility awareness that relies on tracking calendar rhythm, basal body temperature, and other techniques such as cervical mucus.

Syndactyly: Two or more fingers or toes are fused either partially or fully together. The severity of the defect determines whether treatment is required.

Syphilis: A sexually transmitted infection that is caused by an organism called Treponema pallidum; it may cause major health problems or death in its later stages.

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus: An autoimmune disorder that affects the connective tissues in the body and can cause arthritis, kidney disease, heart disease, and blood disorders and complications during pregnancy.

Systolic Blood Pressure: The force of the blood in the arteries when the heart is contracting; the higher blood pressure reading.

Tandem Nursing: Nursing two or more children not of the same pregnancy (e.g. a newborn and a toddler).

Tay-Sachs Disease: An inherited birth defect that causes intellectual disability, blindness, seizures, and death, usually by age 5 years. It most commonly affects people of Eastern European Jewish (Ashkenazi Jews), Cajun, and French Canadian descent.

Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding: Guidelines developed by UNICEF and the World Health Organization that protect and promote breastfeeding in facilities that provide maternity services and care for newborn infants.

Teratogens: Agents that can cause birth defects when a woman is exposed to them during pregnancy.

Testes: Two male organs that produce sperm and the male sex hormone testoterone.

Testosterone: A hormone produced by the testes in men and in smaller amounts by the ovaries and other tissues in women that is responsible for male sex characteristics such as hair growth, muscle development, and a lower voice.

Tetanus: A disease caused by bacteria that can enter the body through a puncture wound such as from a metal nail, wood splinter, or insect bite. The bacteria produce a toxin that can paralyze the breathing muscles. A vaccine is available that protects against tetanus.

Tetanus Toxoid, Reduced Diphtheria Toxoid, and Acellular Pertussis (Tdap) Vaccine: A vaccine that includes a combination of tetanu toxoid, diphtheria toxoid, and acellular pertussis.

Thalassemia: A group of inherited anemias caused by the decreased production of one or more component of hemoglobin, the molecule that carries oxygen in red blood cells.

Theca Lutein Cysts: Benign growths in the ovaries.

Thrush Infection: Infection caused by the yeast Candida albicans that the baby may contract through the birth canal. It may produce white patches and ulcers in the baby's mouth. The baby may then transmit the oral infection to the mother's breasts.

Thyroid Hormone: The hormone that is made by the thyroid gland.

Tocolytic: A drug used to slow contractions of the uterus.

Tongue Tie: Restriction of the tongue caused by a short or tight membrane of skin (frenulum) under the tongue.

TORCH Infections: This is an acronym for the standard tests that are done in the mother's prenatal evaluation. They include: Toxoplasmosis, Syphilis, Rubella, Cytomegalovirus (CMV), Hepatitis B, HIV, and Herpes. In certain situations, Varicella (chickenpox) and Parvovirus are also tested. If the mother has been infected, or is a carrier of the Hepatitis B virus, her baby receives not only the Hepatitis B vaccine at birth, but also a shot of medicine to prevent passage of infection.

Torticollis (Twisted Neck): Swelling of the muscles of the neck causing restricted ability to move the head. Occurs in 1:100 babies, more commonly in those who are born in breech presentation. It usually becomes noticeable by 2-4 weeks of age, when the baby's head appears tilted to one side. Occasionally, a knot is felt in the neck where the neck muscle is tensed and tightened. Rarely, these babies have other associated issues like hip dysplasia or strabismus. If left untreated, babies can develop asymmetry of the face and skull. Treatment includes muscle stretching exercises and encouraging the baby turn his head in the opposite direction.

Toxin: A substance produced by bacteria that is toxic to other living organisms.

Toxoplasmosis: An infection caused by Toxoplasma gondii, an organism that may be found in raw and rare meat, garden soil, and cat feces and can be harmful to the fetus.

Transabdominal Ultrasound Exam: A type of ultrasound exam in which a device is moved across the abdomen.

Transducer: A device that emits sound waves and translates the echoes into electrical signals.

Transfusion: Direct injection of blood, plasma, or platelets into the bloodstream.

Transient Tachypnea of the Newborn (TTN): A common cause of mild respiratory distress in the newborn. Fetuses swallow amniotic fluid while in the womb. When a baby is born vaginally, that fluid gets squeezed out as the baby passes through the birth canal and cries for the first time. Rarely, some of that fluid remains in babies delivered vaginally. More commonly, babies delivered by C-section have this problem. The good news is that the babies all do just fine. They breathe faster than normal and may need a little oxygen for the first hour of life.

Transitional Heart Murmur: The term for a benign, flow murmur heard in the first 24 hours of life. As a baby is born, the fetal heart circulation changes over to the newborn circulation. There are a series of valves that close off the fetal blood pathways and open pathways to the lungs. We often hear the turbulence of blood flow as this is happening. It's nothing to worry about. If a murmur is heard after 24 hours of life, or has a different quality or location that it is heard, your doctor will evaluate it further.

Transmitted Upper Airway Noise: Noise that comes from the nose that is heard and felt in the lungs. When there is a moderate amount of nasal congestion (snot) in the nose, the air going through it makes a loud noise as it passes through. Since babies and young children don't know how to blow their noses, this is often a unique occurrence in this age group.

Transvaginal Ultrasound Exam: A type of ultrasound exam in which a device specially designed to be placed in the vagina is used.

Trial of Labor After Cesarean Delivery (TOLAC): Labor in a woman who has had a previous cesarean delivery with a goal of having a vaginal birth after cesarean delivery (VBAC).

Trichomoniasis: A type of vaginal infection caused by a one-celled organism that is usually transmitted through sex.

Trimester: Any of the three 3-month periods into which pregnancy is divided.

Trisomy: A condition in which there is an extra chromosome.

Trisomy 13 (Patau syndrome): A chromosomal disorder that causes serious problems with the brain and heart as well as extra fingers and toes, cleft palate and lip, and other defects. Most infants with trisomy 13 die within the first year of life.

Trisomy 18 (Edwards syndrome): A chromosomal disorder that causes severe intellectual disability and serious physical problems such as a small head, heart defects, and deafness. Most infants with trisomy 18 die before birth or within the first month of life.

Trisomy 21 (Down syndrome): A genetic disorder in which abnormal features of the face and body, medical problems such as heart defects, and intellectual disability occur. Many children with Down syndrome live to adulthood.

Tubal Sterilization: A method of female sterilization in which the fallopian tubes are tied, banded, clipped, sealed with electric current, or blocked by scar tissue formed by the insertion of small implants.

Tuberculosis (TB, Consumption): A disease caused by bacteria that usually affects the lungs but also can affect other organs in the body. If not treated, it can be fatal. Infectious lung disease that causes nodules in the lungs, but can spread to the lymph nodes and brain. The scary part of the disease is that people can be infected or be carriers of the infection without showing symptoms. People with active infection classically have fever, cough, weight loss, night sweats, and blood in the mucous they cough up. Although TB is less common than it used to be, it occurs in urban populations and immigrants from Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Recommendations for TB screening (PPD) varies among communities, but most public schools no longer require routine testing for their students.

Turner Syndrome: A condition affecting females in which there is a missing or damaged X chromosome. It causes a webbed neck, short height, and heart problems but does not usually cause developmental delays.

Twin-Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS): A condition of identical twin fetuses when the blood passes from one twin to the other through a shared placenta.

Ultrasound Exam: A test in which sound waves are used to examine internal structures. During pregnancy, it can be used to examine the fetus.

Umbilical Cord: A cord-like structure containing blood vessels that connects the fetus to the placenta.

Umbilical Cord Prolapse: An emergency situation in which the umbilical cord comes out of the vagina before delivery of the baby.

Umbilical Hernia: These are very common in newborns, particularly African American babies. The size of the hernia can be quite large, but the intestine almost never gets stuck (incarcerated). These are caused by weak abdominal muscles which will get stronger as the baby starts using them. Most of these hernias resolve on their own. If the hernia is still present by age two, then the child may need to see a pediatric surgeon for repair. Old Wives Tale: You do not need to bandage the hernia or place a coin on it to make it go away. Your baby will fix the problem himself when he starts doing ab crunches.

Undescended Testes: Failure of the male sex organs to descend into the scrotum in the newborn male. (In fetal development, they grow in the pelvic area, then travel down to the scrotum.) Often, the testes will come down on their own by 6 months of life. If they don't, a surgical procedure is performed to affix the testes in the scrotum. Testes in the pelvis are at slightly higher risk for testicular cancer, and make it awfully difficult to perform a monthly self-testicular exam in that location.

UNICEF: Acronym for the United Nations Children's Fund.

Urethra: A tube-like structure through which urine flows from the bladder to the outside of the body.

Uric Acid Crystals: A waste product found in the urine. When the urine is concentrated (low water volume), the uric acid will pull itself out of the urine solution and can be found in crystal form in the diaper. It looks like brick dust and tends to alarm parents who think it is blood. It is an indication of mild dehydration, so aggressive feeding is the only treatment.

Urinary Tract Infections (UTI): An infection in the urinary bladder. It is difficult to diagnose a bladder infection in babies because they do not complain that it burns when they urinate. Sometimes fever and irritability are the only symptoms. It is a good idea to obtain a urine specimen on babies who have a fever with no obvious source of infection.

Uterine Artery Embolization: A procedure in which the blood vessels to the uterus are blocked. It is used to treat postpartum hemorrhage and other problems that cause uterine bleeding.

Uterine Atony: A condition in which the muscles of the uterus do not contract normally after the baby and placenta are delivered; it is a common cause of postpartum hemorrhage.

Uterine Rupture: A condition in which the uterus tears during labor.

Uterus: A muscular organ located in the female pelvis that contains and nourishes the developing fetus during pregnancy.

Vacuum Extraction: The use of a special instrument attached to the baby's head to help guide it out of the birth canal during delivery.

Vacuum Extractor: A metal or plastic cup that is applied to the fetus' head with suction to assist delivery.

Vagina: A tube-like structure surrounded by muscles leading from the uterus to the outside An of the body.

Vaginal Birth After Cesarean Delivery (VBAC): Giving birth vaginally after having a previous cesarean delivery.

Vaginal Discharge: Newborn girls often have vaginal discharge due to fluctuating hormone levels. Older girls who have vaginal discharge prior to puberty need to be evaluated for infection.

Varicella: Also called chickenpox; a contagious disease caused by a virus that results in fluid-filled blisters on the skin.

Varicella Zoster Virus (VZV): Virus that causes chickenpox and shingles.

Vasectomy: A method of male sterilization in which a portion of the vas deferens is removed.

Vasospasm: Constriction of the blood vessels by tightening of the muscles around them, typically causing reduced blood flow through that area.

Ventilator: A machine that blows air into the lungs to help a person breathe.

Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD): The most common type of congenital heart defect (abnormal formation of the heart in the fetus). In this defect, a hole is present in either the muscle wall or tissue between the two large chambers (ventricles) of the heart. A murmur is detected due to the blood flow that crosses between the chambers. Most of these holes close on their own with no medical intervention. Children with VSDs are followed by pediatric cardiologists until the hole closes.

Vernix: The greasy, whitish coating of a newborn. It will wash off at your baby's first bath.

Vertex Presentation: A normal position assumed by a fetus in which the head is positioned down ready to be born first.

Vesicles: Pinpoint, fluid filled blisters seen classically with chickenpox, shingles, and herpes infections. In chickenpox, these lesions appear in crops over a period of a few days.

Vesicoureteral Reflux (VUR): An abnormality in the urinary tract system that causes urine to track backward toward the bladder and kidneys. This urine is not sterile, thus these children are predisposed to bladder and kidney infections. VUR is classified by the severity of how extensievely the urine tracks in the wrong direction. Grade 1 is mildest and Grade 5 is the most severe. Many children outgrow this disorder, but it can take several years (up to age 7). Children with severe reflux (Grades 4-5) may need surgical repair to prevent scarring and permanent kidney damage. About 70% of children with Grade 3 reflux outgrow it on their own. Virtually all children with milder forms (Grades 1-2) outgrow VUR without any intervention. There is a hereditary predisposition to this disorder.

Villi: Finger-like projections containing blood vessels that attach the placenta to the mother's uterine wall.

Virus: An agent that causes certain types of infections.

VLBW: Acronym for very low birth weights (infants weighs less than 1,500 grams [3.3 pounds]).

Von Willebrand Disease: A genetically inherited bleeding disorder that affects both the platelets and the blood clotting chain reaction. People with this disorder have frequent, excessive nosebleeds, easy bruising, and heavy periods.

Vulva: The external female genital area.

Whey: A protein fraction of milk that is prominent in human milk.

WHO: Acronym for the World Health Organization.

WNL: Acronym for within normal limits.

Yeast Infection: Infection caused by one-celled organisms called yeast.


Sources: American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Ari BrownKarin Cadwell, Denise FieldsCindy Turner-Maffei

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