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Newborn Weight Tool marks fifth anniversary of helping providers track infant growth

The Newborn Weight Tool (NeWT), developed by Dr. Ian Paul, a pediatrician and professor of pediatrics and public health sciences at Penn State College of Medicine, is enjoying a good measure of online celebrity.

The tool allows providers to compare a newborn’s weight loss against data from more than 160,000 infants. It has earned 2 million page views since it debuted in 2015 and has been used by providers in 179 different nations.

NeWT’s global reach doesn’t surprise Paul, who created the tool with help from Penn State statistician Eric Schaefer and researchers from the University of California, San Francisco and Kaiser Permanente. “Every provider who cares for babies needs this information,” Paul said.

All infants lose weight after birth. Prior to NeWT, providers judged an infant’s weight loss anecdotally. If a baby lost more than 10% of its birth weight, providers would intervene. “But that didn’t account for factors such as delivery and feeding method,” Paul said.

Now, providers using NeWT input how the baby was delivered, time since delivery, the baby’s birth weight and how it is fed and get a graph showing the baby’s progress. “That helps us to be proactive,” said Dr. Nicole Hackman, a pediatrician at Penn State Health Children’s Hospital. “We can let moms know whether their babies are feeding well and help them find answers if they aren’t.”

While Hackman has used NeWT since its inception, others, such as family medicine physician Dr. Michael Paronish of St. Elizabeth Boardman Hospital in Youngstown, Ohio, are recent adopters. “Last year, I was seeking an evidence-based solution to help an infant I felt was losing too much weight,” Paronish said. “NeWT worked so well, we now use it hospital-wide.”

NeWT received one major upgrade since its start. “We’ve added data from infants for the first month of life so we can track birth weight in the hospital and at home,” Paul said.

NeWT receives ongoing funding from Children’s Miracle Network.

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