NEWBORN JAUNDICE

Newborn jaundice is a yellowing of the skin and eyes. It is relatively frequent and occurs when a baby’s bilirubin level, a yellow pigment produced during the natural breakdown of red blood cells, is too high.

The liver produces bilirubin in older babies and adults before passing it via the intestines. On the other hand, a newborn’s liver may not be mature enough to eliminate bilirubin.

SYMPTOMS

The yellowing of a baby’s skin and eyes is the first sign of newborn jaundice. The yellowing may appear 2 to 4 days after delivery, and it may begin in the face before spreading throughout the body. Between 3 and 7 days after birth, bilirubin levels are usually high. If a baby’s skin turns yellow when a finger is lightly rubbed on it, it’s most likely an indication of jaundice.

DIAGNOSIS

A definite yellow hue confirms a baby’s jaundice, but more testing may be required to assess the severity of jaundice. If a baby develops jaundice during the first 24 hours of life, bilirubin levels should be checked right away, either through the following tests:

If an underlying condition causes a baby’s jaundice, additional tests may be required. This may involve a complete blood count (CBC), blood type, and Rhesus factor (Rh) incompatibility test for your infant. A Coombs test may also be performed to look for increased red blood cell breakdown.

TREATMENT

As a baby’s liver matures, mild newborn jaundice usually goes away independently. Babies will be able to move bilirubin through their bodies if they are fed often (8 to 12 times per day). Other therapies may be required if the jaundice is severe. Phototherapy is a common and highly effective treatment that employs light to help your baby’s body break down bilirubin.

Your infant will be put on a unique bed beneath a blue spectrum light while just wearing a diaper and unique protective eyewear during phototherapy. You can also use a fiber-optic blanket to keep your infant warm.

An exchange transfusion, in which a baby receives modest amounts of blood from a donor or a blood bank, may be required in extreme instances. This replaces the damaged red blood cells in the baby’s blood with healthy red blood cells. This boosts the baby’s red blood cell count while lowering bilirubin levels.

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