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Know About Symptoms, Precautions, Treatments For Newborn Jaundice


Jaundice is also known by Bili lights-Jaundice and Neonatal hyperbilirubinemia. Jaundice occurs in babies when he has a high level of bilirubin in the blood. Usually it is normal for a baby to have bilirubin level bit higher after the birth. It is a yellow substance which body creates when it replaces old red cells. The liver helps in breaking down the substance so that it can be removed from the body through the stool. The high level of bilirubin makes your baby skin yellow and one can make out from the whites of the eye, around eyeball which turns yellow.

There are five types of jaundice commonly known

Physiological Jaundice: This is very normal in most of the newborns. It occurs due to the immaturity of the liver as a result the processing of the bilirubin is slow. It appears 2-4 days soon after the birth and disappears by 1-2 weeks of age.

Premature Jaundice: It is found in premature babies as they are less ready to excrete bilirubin properly. It is treated at a lower bilirubin level than in mature babies to avoid complications.

Breastfeeding Jaundice: It occurs when a breastfeeding baby is not getting efficient breast milk for any reason. It is not the problem of the breast milk; the baby is not getting enough to drink, maybe the milk is not in yet.

Breast milk Jaundice: There are very scanty chances that jaundice is caused by mother’s milk. There could be some substance in mother’s milk, which raises the bilirubin level and prevent the excretion of bilirubin through the intestine. It starts in the first week of birth and improves within three to 12 weeks.

Jaundice due to blood group incompatibility: This jaundice can occur as early as the first day after birth. Rh or ABO problems occurs when a baby has a different blood type than the mother. The mother might produce antibodies which replaces RBC (red blood cells). This creates a sudden rise in bilirubin in the baby’s blood. To avoid Rh problem, an injection of Rh immune globulin can be given to the mother within 72 hours after delivery.

Why Bilirubin Level Rises

Usually it is found that the bilirubin level is higher in newborn babies. When a baby is growing in the mother's womb the placenta, which feeds baby removes bilirubin from the baby’s body. After the birth liver starts this function and takes a while. During that time the bilirubin level may get triggered which causes jaundice.

It occurs due to

  • Abnormal blood cell counts
  • Incompatibility in the blood group of the mother and the baby
  • Cephalohematoma (bleeding underneath the scalp) caused by a difficult delivery
  • Higher level of red blood cells (RBC)
  • Infection
  • Deficiency of few important proteins called enzymes

There could be certain factors which can lead to severe jaundice

  • Methods and types of medications
  • Inherited or inborn infections such as rubella, syphilis and others
  • Diseases like cystic fibrosis or hepatitis that affects the liver or biliary track
  • Hypoxia or low oxygen level
  • Infections like sepsis
  • Some genetic and inherited disorders

Premature babies are more prone to develop jaundice than the full term babies.

Symptoms regarding jaundice

  • The most prominent symptoms include the yellowish skin
  • The color begins on the face and then moves down to chest, belly area legs and soles of the feet
  • Infants sometimes feel tiredness and poor feeding as a symptom
  • The white area around the eyeball turns yellow

When to Contact a Medical Professional

After birth it is advised that all the babies should go for health checkup especially for jaundice. If a baby is having fever, listless or not feeding well, he should be taken for jaundice test. The bilirubin level should be measured right away through a blood test. The following tests can be done

  • Complete blood count
  • Reticulocyte count
  • Coomb's test

Further testings may be required for the babies whose total bilirubin levels are rising more rapidly than expected.

Precautions and Treatment

  • Keep your baby well hydrated with breast milk. Bilirubin level can be reduced through the frequent stool so keep feeding your baby up to 12 times a day to encourage frequent bowel movement.
  • Sometimes special blue lights are used on infants whose levels are very high, which is known as phototherapy. The newborn are placed under this light in a warm enclosed bed to maintain constant temperature, this light helps to break down bilirubin levels in the skin.
  • In most severe cases of jaundice, blood transfusion are required; in this case the baby’s blood is replaced with fresh blood.
  • All the pregnant women should be tested for blood type and unusual antibodies.
  • Monitoring babies during the first five days of life can prevent complications of the jaundice.

Jaundice in the newborn baby is not harmful, do not feel panic. With frequent feeding it can go without treatment within 1 to 2 weeks.


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