Maternal IV fluids linked to newborns' weight loss

August 14, 2011

A newborn baby's weight loss is often used to determine how well a baby is breastfeeding, and concern about a baby which loses too much weight may result in supplementing breastfeeding with formula. However, many women receive IV fluids during labor, and new research published in BMC's open access journal International Breastfeeding Journal shows that some of a newborn's initial weight loss may be due to the infant regulating its hydration and not related to a lack of breast milk.

A group of Canadian researchers looked at relationships among the IV fluids a mother received during labor (or prior to her caesarean section), neonatal output (measured by diaper weight), and newborn weight loss. They found that during the first 24 hours following birth there was a positive association both between the IV fluids given to mothers before birth and neonatal output, and between the neonatal output and newborn weight loss. At 60 hours post birth, the time of the average lowest weight, there was a positive relationship between maternal IV fluids and newborn weight loss.

"Nurses, midwives, lactation consultants, and doctors have long wondered why some babies lose substantially more weight than others even though all babies get small amounts to eat in the beginning," said principal investigator Prof Joy Noel-Weiss from the School of Nursing at the University of Ottawa's Faculty of Health Sciences. "It appears neonates exposed to increased fluids before birth might be born overhydrated, requiring the baby to regulate his or her fluid levels during the first 24 hours after birth."

Prof Noel-Weiss added, "We should reconsider the practice of using birth weight as the baseline when calculating newborn weight loss in the first few days following birth. For mothers and their breastfed babies, accurate assessment of weight loss is important. Although more research is needed, based on our findings, we would recommend using weight measured at 24 hours post birth as a baseline."

Alongside this article, the researchers have provided a standardized method for clinicians to collect and analyze data about newborn weight loss in their own maternity site, in the hope that this protocol will help them to make informed decisions when assessing newborn weight changes.
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Notes to Editors

1. An observational study of associations among maternal fluids during parturition, neonatal output, and breastfed newborn weight loss
Joy Noel-Weiss, A Kirsten Woodend, Wendy E. Peterson, William Gibb and Dianne L Groll
International Breastfeeding Journal (in press)

2. Iatrogenic newborn weight loss: knowledge translation using a study protocol for your maternity setting
Joy Noel-Weiss, A Kirsten Woodend and Dianne L Groll
International Breastfeeding Journal (in press)

Please name the journal in any story you write. If you are writing for the web, please link to the article. All articles are available free of charge, according to BioMed Central's open access policy.

Article citation and URL available on request at press@biomedcentral.com on the day of publication.

3. International Breastfeeding Journal is an open access, peer-reviewed online journal that encompasses all aspects of breastfeeding

4. BioMed Central (http://www.biomedcentral.com/) is an STM (Science, Technology and Medicine) publisher which has pioneered the open access publishing model. All peer-reviewed research articles published by BioMed Central are made immediately and freely accessible online, and are licensed to allow redistribution and reuse. BioMed Central is part of Springer Science+Business Media, a leading global publisher in the STM sector.

BioMed Central

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