Original Publication
Open Access

Newborn Nursery Teaching Attending Guide: Module 3. Common External Newborn Physical Examination Findings

Published: April 20, 2012 | 10.15766/mep_2374-8265.9156

Included in this publication:

  • Common External Newborn Exam Findings Facilitator's Guide.docx
  • Common External Newborn Physical Exam Findings Scavenger Hunt.docx
  • Common External Newborn Physical Exam Findings Slide Set.ppsx
  • Revised Common External Newborn Physical Exam Findings Slide Set (2).pptx

To view all publication components, extract (i.e., unzip) them from the downloaded .zip file.

Editor's Note: This publication predates our implementation of the Educational Summary Report in 2016 and thus displays a different format than newer publications.


This resource is a part of a seven-module curriculum intended to provide teaching faculty caring for well newborns with accessible, approachable, easily delivered, hands-on tools for bedside teaching in the newborn nursery. The seven modules are linked. This module focuses on the demonstration of common physical findings which are readily seen at the bedside.

After forty weeks of anticipation, new parents are overjoyed to welcome their newborn infant. Once the excitement of the delivery is over, parents have a chance to look over their child to ensure all is well. While parents are unable to assess any internal abnormalities, families are quick to find external physical abnormalities which can create significant concern. It is during that first exam by the baby’s physician, parents are eager for reasons and answers as why there is a change in the infant’s appearance. Therefore, when rounding on the newborn service, it is imperative for physicians to be competent in accurately diagnosing and providing appropriate counsel for families. This module includes typical cases a physician encounters when rounding on a newborn service. It was used as a teaching tool for the attending and the senior resident during an interactive session with the newborn service team (including interns and medical students). This module was reviewed during newborn rounds at the University of Michigan Health System, Vanderbilt University and Oregon Health and Science University. It is recommended that the module be used in the beginning of service. A list of the external findings discussed in the module should be provided to the team. Facilitators can then check off the findings as the team rounds daily on the newborns.  The students and residents were competitive in who could identify more and it resulted in very complete examinations of the newborn infants. This made also made the students and residents more confident when they did indeed diagnose a common newborn finding.

Educational Objectives

By the end of the module, the learner will be able to recognize common external newborn physical exam findings and provide appropriate counsel to families.

Author Information

  • Stephanie Goodson, MD: University of Michigan Medical School
  • Amy Fleming, MD: Vanderbilt University
  • Carrie Phillipi, MD, PhD: Oregon Health Sciences University
  • Janelle Aby, MD: Stanford University

None to report.

None to report.


  1. Aby, Janelle. http://newborns.stanford.edu/PhotoGallery/
  2. O’Connor NR, McLaughlin MR, Ham P. Newborn Skin: Part I. Common Rashes. Am Fam Physician. 2008: 77(1):47-52.
  3. McLaughlin MR, O’Connor NR, Ham P. Newborn Skin: Part II. Birthmarks. Am Fam Physician. 2008: 77(1):56-60.
  4. McInerny, TK, Adam HM, Campbell DE, Kamat DM, Kelleher KJ, eds. American Academy of Pediatrics Textbook of Pediatric Care, Elk Grove Village; Il: American Academy of Pediatrics; 2009.


Goodson S, Fleming A, Phillipi C, Aby J. Newborn nursery teaching attending guide: module 3. Common external newborn physical examination findings. MedEdPORTAL. 2012;8:9156. https://doi.org/10.15766/mep_2374-8265.9156