What Causes Infant Jaundice
Jaundice is caused when too much bilirubin builds up in your babys body. Bilirubin is a yellow substance made when the body breaks down old red blood cells. The liver filters it from the blood, and it leaves the body through the stool . This is a normal process that happens all through life. However, babies sometimes get a buildup of bilirubin in their bodies. Your babys liver might not yet be developed enough to filter out the bilirubin. Or your baby may have a condition that increases the number of red blood cells that need to be replaced. These can cause the bilirubin to build up in your babys body, causing jaundice.
There are several common types of jaundice:
- Physiological jaundice:Many newborns have this jaundice. Most of the time it isnt severe. It doesnt cause any problems and goes away on its own within 2 weeks.
- Prematurity jaundice:Premature babies livers often arent developed enough to break down bilirubin effectively. Theyre often treated, even if their bilirubin levels arent as high.
- Breastfeeding jaundice:Babies can get this when they dont get enough breast milk. This can happen because of difficulties with breastfeeding or because the mothers milk hasnt come in yet.
- Breast milk jaundice:Sometimes substances in breast milk cause bilirubin levels to rise. They can also make it harder for the babys body to get rid of bilirubin through the stool. This type starts after 3 to 5 days and slowly gets better over a number of weeks.
How Can I Prevent Jaundice
Feeding your baby frequently in the first hours and days after his birth helps reduce the risk of jaundice. Feeding often will make your baby pass more stool. The milk also gives your babys liver the energy it needs to process the bilirubin. Your babys stool should turn from dark green to yellow.
If you are having trouble breastfeeding, it is important to get help. It might be necessary to offer your baby supplementary feeds of formula to avoid dehydration and to keep the jaundice from getting worse.
How To Get Rid Of Jaundice In Newborns At Home
Jaundice is caused due to the accumulation of bilirubin in the skin. When blood cells complete their life cycle, they are broken down in the body. Bilirubin from these cells is released, which gets filtered in the liver and then excreted. Since the liver of the baby is not fully developed, it cannot filter the entire bilirubin formed, which thus accumulates in the skin, resulting in jaundice. Almost all new born babies have some level of jaundice or yellowing of the skin, however, some babies have more. Once the liver matures, the filtering is more complete and jaundice disappears.
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What Causes Breast Milk Jaundice
Infants are born with high levels of red blood cells. When their body begins to remove the old red blood cells after birth, a yellow pigment called bilirubin is created. Typically, the yellow discoloration caused by bilirubin fades on its own as the maturing liver breaks down the pigment. Its passed from the body in the urine or stool.
Doctors dont know why jaundice occurs in infants who adapt well to breast-feeding. However, it may be caused by substances in breast milk that block the proteins in the liver responsible for breaking down bilirubin.
Natural Alternatives To The Vitamin K Injection
Because VKDB can be very serious, its important to research your options, talk to your healthcare provider, and make a decision that youre comfortable with.
Since its extremely rare for formula-fed babies to have VKDB, a supplement isnt necessary.
For breastfed babies, you can look into an oral protocol with your doctors approval. Read more about that and other alternatives to routine newborn procedures here. The point is: You want to provide some type of protection for your babyVKDB can be fatal, and is on the rise.
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Key Points To Remember About Jaundice In Babies
- jaundice means yellow colouring of the skin and the whites of the eyes
- mild jaundice is common in newborn babies – it starts on the second or third day and settles over 7 to 10 days
- there are many causes of jaundice
- some types of jaundice are serious
- jaundice that appears in the first 24 hours after birth is not normal – it needs checking by a doctor straightaway
- jaundice at any age with pale poos and dark wee needs checking with a blood test
- jaundice still there after 2 weeks of age needs checking by a doctor
- severe jaundice can be serious – with correct early treatment long-term problems are rare
What Are The Complications Of Jaundice In A Child
Most often, jaundice is temporary and not harmful. In rare cases, jaundice can be serious or even life-threatening. Fortunately, prompt treatment can prevent most complications of jaundice in children.
If not properly treated, jaundice can lead to serious health issues. When bilirubin levels rise dangerously high, it can harm cells throughout the body. It is possible for severe jaundice to cause brain damage leading to complications such as cerebral palsy or deafness.
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Breastfeed Your Baby Frequently
If your newborn baby has jaundice, feed him frequently. Breastfeeding your little one frequently will help eliminate the bilirubin from his bloodstream and flush it out through stool and urine. Babies with jaundice sleep a lot if your baby has jaundice, he might sleep a lot, too. Wake him up at regular intervals to feed him.
Also, mothers must consume a healthy diet when breastfeeding their newborns. Freshly prepared, nutritious, balanced meals can ensure that. Therefore, include green leafy vegetables, a small portion of seafood with low-mercury levels per week, foods with healthy fats, seeds, nuts, fruits, well-cooked meat, and a healthy dose of fibre-rich starches.
Another thing that can also help mothers establish a breastfeeding relationship with their newborns is skin-to-skin contact. It helps initiate breastfeeding and set a breastfeeding schedule early on, which in turn aid in decreasing the bilirubin levels.
Optimising breastfeeding support is also necessary to ensure the child is breastfed exclusively on schedule. Therefore, ensure you form a tight support system that includes your close family and peer groups.
How Much Should Newborn Babies Eat The Day Theyre Born
You may be anxious about getting your baby started eating as soon as possible. But on the first day of life, its possible that your baby is just as tired as you after going through birth.
Its not uncommon for babies to be very sleepy in the first 24 hours of life. That first 24-hour period after birth can be a learning curve for the baby to literally learn how to eat and be alert enough to eat. Dont fret too much if your baby isnt showing interest in eating every two hours on schedule.
One study found that, on average, infants who were breastfed ate around eight times and had three wet or dirty diapers in the first 24 hours of life. This is less than theyll eat and eliminate later.
You may be shocked to see how little your newborn is actually eating through breastfeeding in that first day of life, too. This is normal so dont be worried. Keep in mind that until your milk comes in , your baby is drinking colostrum only.
Colostrum is like concentrated superfood full of calories and nutrients, which is why it is adequate even in its small amounts the first couple days. Think quality over quantity.
On average, a healthy newborn will only drink about a 1/2 ounce in colostrum over the first 24 hours of life. Of course, every baby is different.
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How Can Jaundice Be Prevented
Jaundice occurs in 50-70% of all newborns, so there is really no way to prevent it from occurring. But there are ways to prevent it from becoming serious and reaching a level that requires additional interventions.
- Initiate the breastfeeding relationship as soon as possible after birth. Studies show that the breastfeeding relationship has fewer challenges and a higher rate of success when it is initiated in the first hours after birth.
- Work with a lactation consultant to make sure that a proper latch is achieved and the baby is taking in adequate amounts of milk.
- Feed the baby frequently in the first days and weeks of life. Dont try to put the baby on a schedule until the breastfeeding relationship has been effectively established. If the baby is sleepy, work to keep them awake so that they get full feedings.
- Avoid supplementing or interrupting breastfeeding if at all possible.
Compiled using information from the following sources:Breast Milk Jaundice, Medline Plus. https://medlineplus.gov/Breast Milk Jaundice, Emedicine, Breastfeeding a newborn with Jaundice,
How Can You Help Your Baby
If your baby has jaundice, you have an important role to play.
- Look closely at your baby’s skin 2 times a day to make sure that the colour is returning to normal. If your baby has dark skin, look at the white part of the eyes.
- Take your baby for any follow-up testing your doctor recommends.
The best thing you can do to reduce jaundice is to make sure that your baby gets enough to eat. That will help your baby’s body get rid of the extra bilirubin.
- If you are breastfeeding, feed your baby about 8 to 12 times every 24 hours.
- If you are feeding your baby from a bottle, stay on your schedule .
If you aren’t sure that your baby is getting enough milk, ask your doctor, a nurse, or a lactation consultant for help.
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Seek Medical Advice If:
- The jaundice lasts more than two weeks in a term baby and three weeks in a preterm baby
- Your babys skin becomes more yellow
- Your babys bowel motions are pale, chalky coloured
- Your babys urine is dark coloured, not as many wet nappies as usual
- Your baby is not feeding well
- Your baby isnt gaining weight, seems listless or difficult to wake
Living With Infant Jaundice
How long jaundice lasts differs from baby to baby. Often, a babys bilirubin level goes up for the first 3 to 4 days and then slowly goes back down. A baby who is breastfed may have mild jaundice for a longer time than a baby who is fed formula.
Jaundice isnt a serious problem in most healthy babies. However, very high bilirubin levels can be dangerous, and even cause brain damage. The risk of serious injury to your baby from high bilirubin levels is increased if your baby is premature. But jaundice is almost always diagnosed before the bilirubin level gets high enough to cause this kind of damage.
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How Are Babies Checked For Jaundice
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all babies be checked for jaundice after birth while in the hospital. Your babys provider checks her with one or more of these tests:
- Blood test. This is the best way to measure bilirubin levels. Your babys provider takes a small sample of blood from her heel to do this test.
- Physical exam. Your babys provider checks your babys body for signs of jaundice.
- Skin test. Your babys provider places a device on your babys forehead to check her bilirubin level. The device measures the reflection of a special light that shines through her skin.
The AAP recommends that babies be checked for jaundice again at 3 to 5 days of age. This is the time when bilirubin levels are the highest. If your baby leaves the hospital before 72 hours of age, she should be checked within the next 2 days.
What Do Parents Need To Know About Newborn Jaundice
Its important for parents to keep an eye on their babys jaundice when they go home from the hospital. Jaundice can be harder to see in dark-skinned babies. A good way to look for it is to press down for a moment on the babys skin in a spot where the bone is close . This pushes out the blood briefly and should make the skin paler for a few seconds. If it looks yellow instead of pale, there may be jaundice.
Jaundice tends to spread from the face downward as bilirubin levels go up. For that reason, doctors worry far less about a baby who is yellow just in the face and upper chest than one who is yellow below the knees.
- is looking more yellow, especially if it is spreading down below the knees
- is feeding poorly, and/or isnt wetting at least six diapers in 24 hours and having regular stools
- is very sleepy, especially if they dont wake to feed
- is very fussy and hard to console
- arches their head or back, or is otherwise acting strangely
- has a fever or is vomiting frequently.
Remember: jaundice is common, and serious problems are rare! But call your doctor if you are worried its always better to be safe than sorry.
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Which Babies Are At Risk Of Developing Jaundice At Birth
Along with the causes of jaundice in babies at birth, it is also important to know that some babies are at greater risk of developing jaundice at their birth. These include
- Those babies who are born before 37 weeks of gestation or premature babies.
- Babies whose blood type isnt compatible with blood type of their mother. Such babies can develop a buildup of antibodies that destroy the babies RBCs and lead to a sudden rise in the level of bilirubin in the blood. This leads to jaundice.
- Babies who do not get enough breast milk because of any reason may also suffer from jaundice at birth.
How To Get Rid Of Jaundice In Adults
Ever met a person with yellow eyes and yellow skin? That person may be suffering from jaundice. This disease is able to turn the white part of the eyes and the skin yellow and it affects both babies and adults. This article focuses mostly on how to get rid of jaundice in adults. Adults usually get jaundice when the amount of bilirubin in their body is in excess. Bilirubin is a yellow or orange substance that is found in the blood cells . At the death of these cells, the liver swings into action by filtering them from the blood. But in the case where something goes wrong and the liver is unable to do this then bilirubin accumulates and causes the yellow color of the skin.
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What Are The Signs & Symptoms Of Jaundice
A baby with jaundice has skin that looks yellow. It starts on the face, then the chest and stomach, and then the legs. The whites of a baby’s eyes also look yellow. Babies with very high bilirubin levels may be sleepy, fussy, floppy, or have trouble feeding.
Jaundice may be hard to see, especially in babies with dark skin. If you’re unsure, gently press the skin on your baby’s nose or forehead. If it’s jaundice, the skin will appear yellow when you lift your finger.
- starts to look or act sick
- is not feeding well
- has jaundice that gets worse