Newborn jaundice is a condition due to the high levels of bilirubin in the blood.
It makes the infantâ€™s skin and whites of the eyes look yellow.
Bilirubin is produced due to the breakdown of the red blood cells.
Normally bilirubin is excreted through the liver as bile through the intestine.
Newborn jaundice occurs due to the following reasons:
- A newborn baby cannot remove adequate bilirubin from the blood because the baby is having undeveloped liver.
- More bilirubin is produced that cannot be handled by the infantâ€™s liver.
- Large amount of bilirubin is reabsorbed by the intestine before getting rid of the babyâ€™s stool.
More than 50% of the newborn are affected by this. It appears at 2 to 4 days age and then disappears by 1to 2 weeks .
It is due to the immaturity of the babyâ€™s liver that leads to slow processing of bilirubin.
Breast milk jaundice:
1to2% is affected. It is caused by the substance produced in the motherâ€™s milk that is capable of producing high level of bilirubin up to 20 mg.
This substance stops the excretion of bilirubin through the intestine. It starts from 4 to 7 days and lasts from 3 to 10 weeks.
Blood group incompatibility (Rh or ABO problems):
If the blood type of the infant differs from the mother, mother may produce antibodies that destroy the RBCâ€™s of the infant. This leads to sudden increase in the level of the bilirubin in the babyâ€™s blood.
Incompatibility occurs during the first day of life. Once Rh problem cause severe jaundice, it can be prevented by giving the Rh immune globulin injections to the mother within 72 hours after delivery.
Newborn jaundice symptoms:
It occurs around second or third day of life. It starts at head and proceeds downwards. Babyâ€™s face will appear yellow first, then chest, stomach and finally the legs. Whites of eyes also appear yellow.
Now-a-days many babies are released from hospital at 1 or 2 days of life. Parents should carefully watch their infants to detect the jaundice.
A simple test is conducted by pressing your finger tip on the tip of your babyâ€™s nose and forehead. If the skin appears white, then there is no jaundice. If it appears yellow, then there is jaundice. At this moment you should consult a doctor.
A small sample of blood is tested for the measure of bilirubin level. The seriousness depends upon the childâ€™s age and presence of other medical conditions.
Phototherapy treatment given to the infantâ€™s:
At the age of 5 or 7 days the baby can take care of excessive bilirubin level. Incase of high levels phototherapy treatment helps to get rid of bilirubin by altering or making it easier for babyâ€™s liver to get rid of it.
Incase of very high levels the baby is re-admitted in the hospitals for treatment. So, newborn jaundice can be cured by giving phototherapy treatment to the infants.