Jaundice is common with newborn babies though most will only get it mildly. It causes the skin (and sometimes the whites of the eyes) to have a yellow tinge due to excess bilirubin in the blood.
Bilirubin is passed through the liver, due to prematurity of their tiny livers, they are unable to cope with this .
It will usually appears 2 to 3 days after birth, the yellow tinge will start from the head and work its way down so if you notice anything go to your doctor for a check-up. You should get your baby checked over in the first few days of birth anyway.
One thing you can be sure of, its not painful and is not a disease but a symptom from high levels of bilirubin in the blood called hyperbilirubinemia.
There are other reasons of cause:
Examination of the complexion and whites of the eyes in newborns is the first step, it can also be diagnosed through assessing the levels of bilirubin which involves a blood test. A very small amount of blood is taken and results are usually known within a few hours.
If you notice any of the following symptoms on top of the apparent yellow tinge, contact your healthcare professional as soon as possible:
Neonatal Jaundice is treated with a blue light called phototherapy which helps break down the bilirubin. Phototherapy works with a process called isomerization that changes the bilirubin water that can be passed without getting trapped in the liver.
A lamp is placed overhead and baby’s eyes are covered for protection.
Increasing the number of feeds per day for your baby will help flush the bilirubin out and can also help with prevention.
Treatment for Incompatibility Hyperbilirubinemia
This is nearly always preventable and is the best source of treatment with the use of immune globulins called RhoGam through an injection.
If the baby has already been affected, phototherapy and hydration is the course of treatment.
When only mildly affected there may be no treatment required.
Bilirubin is naturally produced from the breakdown of red blood cells, it then passes through the liver getting rid of it through their stool. Newborn babies have a higher turnover of red blood cells than adults do, as a newborns liver is still developing it may not be able to remove the bilirudin sufficiently.
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