Watch Your Babys Eating
Whether your newborn has physiological jaundice or requires more intensive treatment, its important your baby is eating well. When your baby eats well, it can help them have good bowel movements and makes sure bilirubin gets excreted through their intestine. For this reason, your doctor may advise supplementary feeding beyond breastfeeding.
Jaundice In Healthy Newborns
If your new baby has jaundice, its normal to be worried and concerned. Knowing more about newborn jaundice will help you decide if you need to see medical help and understand why tests may be needed.
More than 80% of all newborns appear jaundiced during the first week of life. In most cases, this is a normal part of adjusting to life outside the womb, but occasionally jaundice is a sign of other more serious health problems. Jaundice is also more common in pre-term and premature babies, who need treatment to avoid serious health problems. Sometimes treatment of jaundice presents challenges that new breastfeeding mothers and their babies need to overcome.
What causes jaundice?
Most babies are born with more red blood cells than they need for life outside the womb. When these cells break down after birth, they produce a yellow pigment called bilirubin, which circulates in the blood. When bilirubin reaches the liver, it is changed into a form that can be transported to the intestines and passed out of the body in the babys poo. However, a newborn babys liver cannot process all the bilirubin at once. Excess bilirubin is deposited in the skin, muscles, and mucous membranes of the body, which look yellowish or a golden colour. This may be harder to notice on darker skin.
Breastfeeding and jaundice
When to be concerned?
Seek medical help if your baby:
When a baby appears jaundiced, regular blood tests may be requested to monitor bilirubin levels.
Home Remedies For Jaundice In Babies:
Here are a few natural ways to help Jaundice in babies.
Sunlight is the more effective remedy that have been used from the ancient times to treat jaundice in babies. Sunlight can breakdown the indirect bilirubin making it easier for the liver to process it.
Place your baby near the window where you get proper sunlight. Do this for twice a day that helps to recover quickly from the Jaundice. Never place your baby directly under the sun. Make sure that your baby receives slanting sun rays before 8 in the morning.
2. Breastfeed your baby regularly:
If your newborn has jaundice feed regularly. Frequent breastfeeding will help in eliminating the excessive bilirubin present in the bloodstreams through stools and urine. Babies with Jaundice sleep alot. Wake up your baby and feed. If you do not breastfeed your baby give two ounces of formula milk at each feed.
3. Use Supplements:
Babies with jaundice required to be fed more in comparison with the healthy babies. If your breastmilk is not enough for your baby, offer the infant formula milk.
4. Spinach and Carrot Juice:
Carrot and Spinach are rich in iron and help in increasing the detoxification power of the liver.
Finely chop carrot and spinach. Squeeze the juice out of them and give it to your baby after consulting your doctor.
5. Sugarcane Juice:
Sugarcane strengthens the liver and it is the recommended remedy for the jaundice. Studies suggest that it is widely used for the treatment of jaundice in India.
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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.
Treatment For Jaundice In Babies
Treatment for jaundice in babies depends on the cause, but may include:
- mild jaundice if the baby is otherwise healthy and well, no treatment is necessary. The baby’s liver will take only a few days to process bilirubin properly
- moderate jaundice phototherapy is the most common treatment. Phototherapy transforms the bilirubin in the babys skin into a less harmful chemical. Your baby may be undressed and placed in a warm incubator under blue lights. To maximise exposure to the lights, your baby will wear only a nappy and eye protection. Alternatively, a biliblanket may be used. A biliblanket is a pad placed directly against the baby that bathes the baby in light. Again, baby wears only a nappy and is wrapped in a flexible blue light mat. Treatment usually lasts one or two days and may occur at home, or in the hospital ward with the mother. To prevent dehydration and increase the bilirubin excretion, your baby will require regular feeding every three to four hours
- severe jaundice sometimes babies need treatment with more than one blue light at a time . When this happens, babies are usually admitted to a newborn nursery. Rarely, and only in very severe cases where an underlying condition is causing the jaundice, a blood transfusion may be needed.
Treatment for common conditions that cause jaundice may include:
Treatments for rare conditions that cause jaundice may include:
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How Do I Know If My Babys Bilirubin Levels Are Too High
There is a blood test to measure the amount of bilirubin in your babys body. In many hospitals, bilirubin levels are routinely checked before you take your baby home. To minimize blood tests, non-invasive devices are also used to monitor jaundice.
Your health care provider can plot your babys result on a graph if they know exactly how many hours old your baby was when the test was performed. The information should be given to you when you and your baby leave the hospital. If the test shows that your baby is at risk for reaching a level of bilirubin that needs treatment, your doctor will arrange a follow-up visit and will do another test.
How Is Newborn Jaundice Diagnosed
The hospital discharges most mothers and newborns within 72 hours of delivery. Its very important for parents to bring their babies in for a checkup a few days after birth because bilirubin levels peak between 3 to 7 days after birth.
A distinct yellow coloring confirms that a baby has jaundice, but additional tests may be needed to determine the severity of the jaundice.
Babies who develop jaundice in the first 24 hours of life should have bilirubin levels measured immediately, either through a skin test or blood test.
Additional tests may be needed to see if a babys jaundice is due to an underlying condition. This may include testing your baby for their complete blood count , blood type, and Rhesus factor incompatibility.
Additionally, a Coombs test may be done to check for increased red blood cell breakdown.
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What Causes Newborn Jaundice
The reason a Newborn baby suffers from Jaundice is that their liver is not able to break down the bilirubin, which results in the building up of it. Bilirubin is a yellow compound, which turns your babys skin and eyes yellow. When the baby is inside your womb, it is your livers job to clear out the bilirubin of the baby.
When the baby is born, their liver is weak and it takes time in the breaking up process.
Babies who have greater chances of Jaundice are-
- Baby born before 37 weeks.
- Having trouble breast or bottle feeding.
- A younger sibling of a child who had jaundice
How Can I Prevent Jaundice In My Newborn
Jaundice in newborns is normal and usually cant be prevented. You can reduce the risk that your baby will develop severe jaundice by feeding them often. Frequent feedings stimulate regular bowel movements which will help your baby get rid of the bilirubin.
- Breastfed babies: You should breastfeed your baby eight to 12 times a day during their first week of life.
- Formula-fed babies: You should give your baby one to two ounces of formula every two to three hours during their first week of life. Ensure at least eight feeds in a 24-hour period.
Also, make sure your babys healthcare provider checks your babys bilirubin level before you leave the hospital. Schedule a follow-up visit during your babys first week of life to have the bilirubin level checked again.
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What If Phototherapy Doesnt Work
Newborn babies who dont respond well to phototherapy may have an underlying condition, like a urinary tract infection . In this case, the UTI will need treated in order for the jaundice to clear.
If other conditions are ruled out, your babys doctor may recommend an IV if phototherapy isnt cutting it.
The need for blood transfusions or immunoglobulin, a protein in the blood that reduces antibody levels, is rare but may be recommended in severe cases.
Should A Jaundiced Breastfed Infant Be Supplemented
Sometimes. Jaundice is one of the possible indications for supplementation in healthy, term infants as outlined in the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicines clinical protocols on supplementationexternal icon and jaundiceexternal icon. Any decisions about supplementation of a jaundiced newborn should be made on a case-by-case basis.
- Wambach, K. & Riordan, J. . Breastfeeding and Human Lactation . Jones & Bartlett Learning. Page 405.
- Lawrence, R.A & Lawrence, R.M. . Breastfeeding: A Guide for the Medical Profession . Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier. Page 506.
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What If My Baby Is Still Jaundiced At 2 Weeks Of Age
If your baby is still jaundiced 2 weeks after birth, your doctor or midwife will need to check them. Your baby will need a blood test and may need to see a paediatrician .
It is important not to miss any of the rare causes of jaundice that need special treatments. Biliary atresia is one of these important conditions.
What Are The Symptoms Of Jaundice
Jaundice is very common in newborn babies. It makes a babys skin and the whites of the eyes turn a yellow colour. You may notice it between 1 and 4 days after your baby is born. It will first appear on your babys face and chest.
Babies who have higher levels of bilirubin may seem very tired and cranky, and feed poorly because they are too hard to wake up.
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How Do You Know If Your Baby Has Jaundice
When a baby has jaundice, a yellowish color usually first appears on his face. It then may spread to his chest, belly, arms, legs and white parts of his eyes. The best way to see jaundice is in good light, like in daylight or under fluorescent lights. Jaundice can be harder to see in babies with darker skin.
- Looks very yellow, orange or greenish-yellow
- Is hard to wake up or wont sleep at all
- Has trouble breastfeeding or sucking from a bottle
- Is very fussy
- Has too few wet or dirty diapers
- Wont stop crying or has a high-pitched cry
- Arches backward
- Has a stiff, limp or floppy body
- Has strange eye movements
These may be warning signs of dangerously high levels of bilirubin that need quick treatment to prevent kernicterus. This is a kind of brain damage caused by high bilirubin levels. Kernicterus isnt common because babies usually are treated before jaundice becomes severe. If untreated, kernicterus can cause:
- Athetoid cerebral palsy. Babies with this condition have uncontrollable movements in the arms, legs, face and other body parts.
- Intellectual disabilities
Rarely Jaundice May Signal A Problem
Sometimes, though, jaundice can be a sign of another problem, and when bilirubin levels get very high it can affect the brain, sometimes in a permanent way. This is very, very rare, affecting far less than 1% of infants.
There are many conditions that can make it more likely that bilirubin levels will be high, including:
Babies are monitored closely for jaundice in the newborn period. Very often, pediatricians use a blood test or a device that measures the bilirubin level through the skin. Based on the result and any risk factors, they decide whether more monitoring or tests are needed, and whether the baby needs therapy.
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Are There Likely To Be Any Complications From Jaundice
When babies receive the correct treatment, complications of jaundice are rare. Severe jaundice can lead to deafness or brain damage without diagnosis and quick treatment.
Points to remember about jaundice in newborn babies are:
- 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 poo and dark wee needs checking with a blood test immediately
- 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
How Common Is Newborn Jaundice
Jaundice is one of the most common conditions that can affect newborn babies.
It’s estimated 6 out of every 10 babies develop jaundice, including 8 out of 10 babies born prematurely before the 37th week of pregnancy.
But only around 1 in 20 babies has a blood bilirubin level high enough to need treatment.
For reasons that are unclear, breastfeeding increases a baby’s risk of developing jaundice, which can often persist for a month or longer.
But in most cases, the benefits of breastfeeding far outweigh any risks associated with jaundice.
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What Is The Difference Between Suboptimal Intake Jaundice And Breast Milk Jaundice
Suboptimal intake jaundice, also called breastfeeding jaundice, most often occurs in the first week of life when breastfeeding is being established. Newborns may not receive optimal milk intake, which leads to elevated bilirubin levels due to increased reabsorption of bilirubin in the intestines. Inadequate milk intake also delays the passage of meconium, which contains large amounts of bilirubin that is then transferred into the infants circulation. In most cases breastfeeding can, and should, continue. More feedings can reduce the risk of jaundice.
Breast milk jaundice most often occurs in the second or later weeks of life and can continue for several weeks. While the exact mechanism leading to breast milk jaundice is unknown, it is believed that substances in the mothers milk inhibit the ability of the infants liver to process bilirubin.
What Are The Symptoms
If a newborn has jaundice, his or her skin and the white part of the eyes will look yellow. The yellow colour shows up first in the baby’s face and chest, usually 1 to 5 days after birth.
A baby whose bilirubin level is high may:
- Get more yellow.
- Arch his or her back.
- Have a high-pitched cry.
A high bilirubin level can be dangerous. Make sure to call a doctor right away if your baby has any of these symptoms.
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C Breast Milk Jaundice
Breastfed infants may also develop increased levels of bilirubin in the body during the second or third week of life or even later, resulting in a different kind of delayed neonatal jaundice.
Although the reasons for this late-onset breastmilk jaundice are not clearly understood, it may have something to do with the composition of the breastmilk.
Maternal milk contains certain substances that can make it difficult for the liver to metabolize bilirubin and remove it from the blood. Instead, the waste product is reabsorbed by the intestine, resulting in its persistently high levels in the blood. In most cases of breastfeeding jaundice and breastmilk jaundice, doctors recommend that the mother continues breastfeeding.
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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.
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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.
What Treatments Are Available For Jaundice
Your baby will not need any special treatment if they have normal jaundice. You can treat mild jaundice in the first week by simply making sure that your baby has enough fluid and you can do this by breastfeeding. Breastfeeding gives your baby essential food and the right amount of water. Babies do not normally need extra water. Regular feeding to boost the supply of breastmilk is important.
If the bilirubin level is high, the most commonly used treatment is phototherapy . It does not contain rays that would harm your baby. Phototherapy is very safe and effective and can only happen in hospital. See .
A small number of babies with severe jaundice may have liver disease. Your baby may need blood tests or to go to hospital for tests, especially if the jaundice does not go away by 2 weeks of age or your baby has pale poo or dark wee.
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