What Is Newborn Jaundice?
Jaundice in newborns is a common and usually innocuous illness in which your newborn’s skin and eyes appear yellow. It affects approximately 60% of newborns. Jaundice occurs when the blood has an abnormally high level of bilirubin, a substance released by red blood cells during their natural breakdown process. It may go away on its own, or your doctor may recommend light therapy or other treatments to get rid of it.
What is the cause of infant jaundice?
Every day, some of the body’s red blood cells degrade and produce bilirubin in the blood. It is the liver’s responsibility to filter it out of the bloodstream. During pregnancy, your baby’s bilirubin is cleared out by your liver. However, your baby’s liver takes over this task after birth. When your newborn’s liver is unable to break down bilirubin as quickly as their body produces it, it begins to accumulate. Bilirubin is a yellow compound that causes your baby’s skin and eyes to turn yellow.
Babies who are most likely to experience jaundice include:
- Premature babies (those born before 37 weeks of pregnancy)
- Babies who aren’t getting enough breast milk or formula, either because they’re struggling to feed or because their mother’s milk hasn’t arrived yet.
- newborns whose blood type is incompatible with their mother’s blood type
- A newborn whose blood type is incompatible with their mother’s can generate antibodies that kill their red blood cells and cause a spike in bilirubin levels.
- East Asian or Mediterranean descent
- A child’s younger sibling who had jaundice
- Born to a mother with Rh-negative blood type or O type
Among the other causes of jaundice are:
- birth bruising or another internal bleeding
- difficulties with the liver
- an infection
- an enzyme deficiency
- an abnormality in your baby’s red blood cells
Jaundice usually appears 2 or 3 days after your baby is delivered and disappears during the first few weeks. Some types may appear sooner or later. Breastfeeding jaundice occurs when your infant does not consume enough nutrients. Your milk may not have arrived yet, or your baby may be experiencing difficulty latching on. The more your kid consumes, the faster their body eliminates waste, including bilirubin.
After the first week, breast milk jaundice emerges. Doctors aren’t sure why this happens, but they believe something in breast milk prevents your baby’s liver from processing bilirubin adequately. This type of jaundice might linger for months.
When to Consult a Doctor
Most episodes of jaundice are harmless, however jaundice can sometimes suggest an underlying medical issue. Severe jaundice also raises the danger of bilirubin entering the brain and causing lifelong brain damage.
If you experience any of the following symptoms, please contact your doctor:
- Jaundice spreads or gets more severe.
- Your infant has a temperature of more than 100°F (38°C).
- The yellow hue of your baby deepens.
- Your infant is not feeding well, appears listless or lethargic, and cries in a high tone.
Is it possible to avoid infant jaundice?
There is no effective strategy to avoid neonatal jaundice. You can have your blood type tested while pregnant.
If necessary, your baby’s blood type will be tested after birth to rule out the possibility of blood type incompatibility, which can cause neonatal jaundice. If your baby does have jaundice, there are some things you can do to keep it from getting worse:
- Check to see if your kid is getting enough nourishment from breast milk. Feeding your infant 8 to 12 times a day for the first few days keeps them hydrated, which allows bilirubin to flow through their bodies more quickly.
- If you are not breastfeeding your baby, give him or her 1 to 2 ounces of formula every 2 to 3 hours for the first week. Premature or smaller babies, as well as those receiving breast milk, may require less formula. Consult your doctor if you are concerned that your baby is taking too little or too much formula, or if they are not waking up at least 8 times every 24 hours to feed.
During the first five days of your baby’s life, keep a close eye out for signs of jaundice, such as yellowing of the skin and eyes. For the first week, formula-fed newborns should consume 1 to 2 ounces (approximately 30 to 60 millilitres) of formula every two to three hours. Some parents feed their newborns with formula goat’s milk, which aids in the treatment of jaundice. However, if jaundice persists, it is essential to consult a doctor and seek medical advice and treatment.