Jaundice in Newborns

What is Jaundice in Newborn Babies?

Jaundice refers to a yellow discolouration of the skin and white part of the eyes. It is very common in newborn babies. It is caused by an excess of the chemical bilirubin in the blood. Jaundice in newborns is also referred to as neonatal jaundice or hyperbilirubinemia.

What are the Causes of Jaundice in Newborn Babies?

Haemoglobin is a molecule found in red blood cells. It is responsible for carrying oxygen to all cells in the body. Bilirubin is a normal chemical by-product of the breakdown of haemoglobin. The body does not actually need bilirubin. Usually it travels through the blood to the liver where it is converted so that it can be removed in the urine. If a child or adult has too much bilirubin, they become jaundiced.

What are the Symptoms of Jaundice in Newborn Babies?

Jaundice usually appears around the second or third day of a newborn baby’s life. A jaundiced baby’s skin usually will appear yellow first on the face, then the chest and stomach, and finally, the legs. It can also make the whites of a baby’s eyes look yellow. To check for infant jaundice, press gently on your baby’s forehead or nose. If the skin looks yellow where you pressed, it’s likely your baby has mild jaundice.

Traditional Medical Treatments for Jaundice in Newborn Babies?

Most cases of jaundice in newborns do not require any treatment. The jaundice goes away itself, usually within a few days. Jaundiced babies usually require extra fluids. Sometimes babies are put under sunlamps in order to break down the excess bilirubin. It is important that your baby is checked out if they have jaundice, to ensure there is not some underlying problem or condition causing it. Usually jaundice produces no long-terms effects in the baby.

Complementary/Alternative Treatments for Jaundice in Newborn Babies

In babies with physiological jaundice, usually no treatment is necessary and the jaundice gradually fades away. Increased fluids. Increasing the frequency of feeds can help to bring down the level of bilirubin. Bottle-fed babies should be fed every 2 – 3 hours; breastfed babies should be fed every one and a half to two and a half hours. It is important to check baby’s weight frequently. Phototherapy (light therapy). If the baby’s bilirubin level is above a certain level (this is checked by a blood test), phototherapy or light treatment may be recommended. Light of a certain wavelength (450nm) helps break down the bilirubin in the baby’s skin. During treatment, a carefully controlled blue light from fluorescent tubes or special blue lamps is shone on the baby. A mask will be placed over the baby’s eyes to protect them from the light. This treatment is usually done in hospital.