Poor Circulation in Infants

It’s normal for your newborn’s skin to have poor circulation symptoms during the first few hours following birth; however, this should correct itself. If your infant’s skin continues to show signs of poor circulation, there could be an underlying medical problem that requires treatment as soon as possible. Some poor circulation causes are myocarditis, hypothyroidism, and being born premature with an underdeveloped heart and respiratory system.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.


Parents will need to observe an infant’s skin to determine poor circulation symptoms. The infant’s feet and hands will often be cold. The skin, especially the extremities, will have a pale, bluish or pinkish tone. If your infant has a sore or infection that is not healing properly, this could be from poor circulation. Your infant may urinate less, since poor circulation affects the kidneys' ability to function as necessary. Blood pressure may also be low.


If an infant is premature, the severity of the poor circulation will depend on how early the baby is born. Since babies in the womb develop at about the same rate, extensive research is unnecessary to determine if a breathing tube or other methods of life support will be necessary while the systems that regulate circulation mature. Myocarditis is diagnosed by X-ray, electrocardiogram, echocardiogram, blood tests and a possible heart biopsy. A blood test is used to diagnose hypothyroidism.


Newborns with myocarditis are at high risk, with the mortality rate being 50 to 70 percent, according to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center 1. The immune system works to destroy viruses, but sometimes it overworks and ends up destroying heart cells. The most common viruses associated with myocarditis are influenza, Adenovirus and Coxsacking. The severity of damage to the heart depends on the portion and extensiveness of the damage to the heart. If a large portion of the heart is damaged, this could impair its ability to pump blood to organs and tissues, leading to congestive heart failure. Intravenous immunoglobin, or IVIG, is most often used to treat the condition and infants will be in a hospital’s intensive care until while being treated for myocarditis.


If the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroxine, also known as T4, the infant could experience improper growth and brain development. About 1 out of 4,000 newborns are born with hypothyroidism, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services. This condition can be treated by replacing the missing thyroid hormone with a hormone replacement tablet, also called sodium levothyroxine or L-thyroxine. This tablet will be taken every day for life. If this condition is treated early, the infant will live a perfectly normal life.


A slight bluish undertone to the skin is normal for poor circulation; however, if your infant suddenly turns blue, is having difficulties breathing, seems lethargic, or is unresponsive, seek immediate medical attention. Learning CPR can prepare you for unexpected life-threatening situations that can arise with your infant.