Vital signs include heart rate, respiratory rate, temperature and blood pressure. Vital signs helps healthcare professional to assess basic function of the body.
In newborn and infants, body temperature, pulse rate, and respirations rate fluctuate widely. But as the age progresses vital signs fluctuate less and becomes stable
The pulse rate decreases to a normal range of 80 to 130 beats per minute. The respiration rates falls to 22 to 40 breathes/minute. Normal blood pressure ranges from systolic pressure of 80 to 110 mm Hg over diastolic pressure of 50 to 82 mm Hg. Sometimes additional vital signs like body weight, skin color and body mass index in also recorded to determine any serious medical condition or infection in toddler.
In infants below 18 months, heart and pulse rate should be measured by stethoscope. Heart /pulse rate should be counted continuously for one minute. Blood pressure in an 18 month old can be measured with sphygmomanometer. Sucking, crying and eating can influence blood pressure measurements and these should be noted. While measuring the blood pressure in an 18 month old, the arm should be positioned at a level of heart and well supported but when this is not possible the lower leg can be used. Temperature in infants and small children can be measured with electronic or rectal thermometer. Mercury thermometer is hazardous for infants especially below 24 months; hence, it should not be used.
Respiratory assessment and monitoring should be done in order to collect complete vital signs statistics. In an 18 month old, the pattern and rate of breathing should be monitored and recorded. Respiration rate should be counted for one minute. Infants and children below six years of age predominantly breathe through abdomen. Hence, abdominal movements should be counted.
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