|Jaundice in Babies Prevention Treatments
It's alarming when your newborn turns yellow but over 60% of infants get
jaundice. Usually, there's no need to worry, says paediatrician, Dr
Kerry Robinson There's your beautiful baby, perfect in every way, but
within three days her skin and the whites of her eyes turn yellow. This
discoloration is called jaundice and it's caused by the breakdown of red
blood cells. But don't fret, in most cases it's physiological jaundice
and that's normal. Though, occasionally, jaundice is a sign of deeper
problems, your baby will usually show symptoms that indicate an illness.
Two things cause yellow discolouration - an immature liver and an absence of bacteria in the gut.
Newborn babies are born with a surplus of red blood cells and after
birth the excess cells are broken down in the spleen. One of the
breakdown products of red blood cells is bilirubin, which is responsible
for the yellow colour. Bilirubin normally travels in the blood from the
spleen to the liver where it is processed with no problems. But many
newborns' livers are immature and can't process all the bilirubin
delivered, thus the bilirubin passes into the gut.
In older children and adults the gut is full of bacteria that break down
any incoming bilirubin. In newborns, the gut hasn't built up enough
healthy bacteria (its normal flora) to cope with the bilirubin. So it's
reabsorbed from the gut back into the blood stream making the skin and
whites of the eyes go yellow. It doesn't usually have an adverse effect
on any other organs. Though, in extreme cases, the brain can be
affected, in this country, treatment for jaundice is started well before
there is any danger.
Physiological jaundice usually starts after 48 hours of age, reaching a
peak by 4-5 days, and can last for up to two weeks. It's more common in
breastfed babies (although no-one really knows why) but this does NOT
mean you have to stop breastfeeding.
If jaundice is present with certain other symptoms, it may indicate
another underlying illness. Things to look out for which suggest it's
not just 'breast milk jaundice'
Poor feeding - your baby doesn't wake to feed and doesn't seem
interested in sucking Excessive drowsiness and difficulty waking your
baby Excessive irritability - unstoppable crying Increased muscle tone -
your baby feels stiff If any of these are present, tell your midwife
What else causes newborn jaundice?
Babies born prematurely are more likely to become suffer as their livers
are even more immature Infection - either acquired in the womb or after
birth Neonatal hepatitis Malformation of the bile ducts Other red blood
cell abnormalities Metabolic problems Hypothyroidism Rhesus disease.
This happens when mother and baby's blood groups aren't compatible - one
is rhesus negative, the other rhesus positive. If, during the
pregnancy, blood from the baby crosses the placenta and enters the
mother's blood stream, the mother starts to make antibodies against the
baby's blood. These antibodies can cross over the placenta and can break
down the baby's blood cells. This is a very rare condition but can be
fatal. What if the jaundice starts in the first day of life?
This does usually indicate an underlying problem, so you should take
your baby to hospital, if you're not there already. The most likely
causes are an infection or an excess breakdown of red blood cells.
What if the jaundice lasts more than two weeks?
Breastfeeding is still the most common cause for prolonged jaundice,
affecting about 15% of healthy breastfed babies. This jaundice usually
fades after 3-4 weeks. If the jaundice lasts longer than two weeks, a
blood test will be done to exclude other conditions.
Is it dangerous for my baby to be jaundiced?
Not really, as long as your baby is alert and feeding well and the
discolouring isn't too severe. Your midwife will see you regularly and
can always take a blood sample to determine the level of jaundice. This
is plotted on a graph and if it's above a certain level treatment will
What's the treatment? The most common treatment is phototherapy, which
involves placing your baby under special lights. Sometimes sunlight
alone will do, but in hospital, blankets are used with built-in lights -
a bit like a sun bed.
Light from the blue band of the visible spectrum converts the bilirubin
to a harmless soluble breakdown product. Phototherapy is an extremely
successful treatment and for most babies it's all they need to cure the
symptoms. If it doesn't work, the next step is an exchange transfusion,
where blood is taken from the baby and replaced with donor blood. This
is only done in specialist centres and is very rare.
Can jaundice be prevented?
Not really. Unfortunately, it isn't something we can screen for. It just
has to be noticed, monitored and treated where necessary. So don't be
alarmed if your newborn goes a bit yellowy - it's extremely common and
doesn't usually cause any harm. If there are concerns, your midwife will
refer you to the hospital for phototherapy which is non-invasive,
involves no needles and just means treating your baby under lights.
About the Author
Webmaster - http://pixeltechnologies.net, http://shainaoverseas.com
• 7 Tips For A Healthy Pregnancy
• A Step By Step Plan to a Healthy Pregnancy
• Aromatherapy and Pregnancy
• Benefit For Breastfeeding Mother
• Breastfeeding in Style
• Buying Maternity Clothes ~ Creating your 9 months
• Calculate Your Due Date Easily with an Online Pregnancy Calculator
• Concerns About Sex During Pregnancy
• Dealing With Common Pregnancy Complaints
• Dealing with Pregnancy Bloat
• Delivery Mistakes Cerebral Palsy
• Endometriosis Symptoms What Are The Signs
• Exercise and Pregnancy Fact Sheet
• Fashionably Pregnant
• GAGGED While Giving Birth
• Getting Pregnant
• Giving Your Newborn a Bath
• Health and Fitness in Pregnancy and Delivering a Healthy Baby
• How To Avoid Post Partum Depression
• How to Deal With Headaches During Pregnancy
• How to Get Your Pre pregnancy Body Back
• How Would You Like To Look Sexy During Pregnancy
• Importance of Oral Hygiene for Pregnant Women
• Infertility and Pregnancy
• Itâ€™s Not A Sin For Pregnant Women To Have A Massage
• Jaundice in Babies Prevention Treatments
• Kegal Exercise for a Healthy Pregnancy
• Morning Sickness Relief
• Obesity And Pregnancy
• Plus Size Maternity Clothes Keep Baby And Mom Comfortable
• Pregnancy and Hypoglycemia
• Pregnancy Food No Nos
• Teen Pregnancy Can Be a Crisis
• The Risks of Multiple Pregnancy Associated with IVF
• Truth about the Health of Newborns
• Women and Breast Cancer Information
• Women and Breast Cancer Symptoms
• Women and Cervical Cancer Symptoms
• Yoga For Pregnant Women