Jaundice

5 Facts You Should Know about Jaundice in Newborns

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Welcome to the world of parenting and mommy-hood. Now that you’ve given birth, the real mommy work begins. One of them is getting home and taking care of your little one.

When you get home, you noticed that your newborn’s skin is a bit yellow. This is jaundice. This could be alarming for you since you are sure that you took all vitamins, ate healthy, and religiously go to the doctor for check-up to ensure that your little one is safe and healthy. What went wrong?

Here are things you should know about jaundice.

  1. Jaundice, defined.Also known as neonatal jaundice, this is the yellow discoloration of a baby’s eyes and skin. Jaundice is caused by high levels of pigment in the blood called bilirubin or a by-product of normal breakdown of red blood cells. Too much of it could make a baby’s skin yellow.Aside from the yellowish skin, other symptoms include dark or yellow urine and pale-colored stools.
  1. Jaundice is not harmful.
    Yes, you read that right. In fact, about 60 percent of full-term babies develop this condition within two to three days from birth and goes away within two to three weeks as the liver develops.However, yellowish skin that lasts for more than three weeks, accompanied by other symptoms such as poor feeding habits and high fever, can be a sign of something serious. Babies who develop jaundice in the first 24 hours require close monitoring as well. Make sure to go to a doctor for further diagnosis because too much bilirubin could lead to permanent damage to your baby’s nervous system.
  1. Jaundice is more common on breastfeeding babies.
    Breastfeeding itself is not the cause. However, insufficient liquid could trigger bilirubin in blood to rise. In case you are breastfeeding and not yet producing enough milk, then your newborn is most likely to have jaundice.However, this does not mean you shouldn’t breastfeed. Even formula-fed kids could get jaundice too, especially if they are not getting enough. If you feel your baby is not getting enough milk, discuss possible options with your doctor to increase milk supply. You might also be advised to use a breast pump so you could monitor how much milk you are capable of producing.
  1. There are babies who are more prone to jaundice. They are any of the following –
    • Has a sibling who had jaundice
    • Of East Asian descent
    • Suffers from a genetic disorder such as red blood cell membrane defects, metabolic disorder, or Gilbert’s syndrome
    • Had bruises at birth, which produce bilirubin as a by-product
    • Those who were born prematurely
    • Afflicted with certain diseases such as hypothyroidism or cystic fibrosis
  1. In most cases, jaundice need not be treated.
    Most of the time, your baby doesn’t need any treatment. It goes away on its own until your newborn’s liver starts to mature. Frequent feedings from eight to 12 times a day could also help your child pass bilirubin.In severe cases, phototherapy or exchange transfusion could be an effective treatment to break down excess bilirubin in your baby’s body.

It is important to observe your child closely especially during the first three to four weeks from birth. If you suspect jaundice, don’t panic. Unless it doesn’t come with other alarming symptoms, your baby will be fine.

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