What Causes Jaundice In Newborn Babies

If The Diet Is Responsible:

Newborn Jaundice in Babies: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

Suppose your newborn childs skin is turning yellowish due to poor diet, the baby might seem a bit upset. Newborns can only process breast milk and it can be a bit yellowish. So, it is going to turn the babys skin a bit yellowish.

The doctor will identify this health issue during the routine checkup of the child. They will do some tests and recognize symptoms to cure quickly. The sooner doctors find the symptoms are better because it will prevent further discomfort to your child.

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.

What Is The Outlook For Jaundice In Newborns

Jaundice in newborns is common. For most babies, jaundice will get better without treatment within one to two weeks. But its important to have your babys bilirubin level checked. A high bilirubin level can lead to serious health conditions if its not treated immediately. These conditions include cerebral palsy, deafness and kernicterus, a type of brain damage.

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How To Manage Infantile Jaundice

A baby with jaundice can be made to feel comfortable and better by following the below steps.

  • If the baby has breastfeeding jaundice, then you must feed the baby as frequently as possible to help bring down the bilirubin levels. The AAP recommends breastfeeding even when the baby suffers from any type of jaundice.
  • Parents can have their version of does a similar job as light treatment by excreting excess bilirubin. However, it is not a full-fledged treatment. Parents can place the baby under soft sunrays early in the morning or capture the rays through a glass pane to avoid any sunburns. Just like phototherapy, the infant must be dressed only in diaper and have an eye-band. Ensure the temperature at home is neither too cold nor hot. Sunlight exposure for jaundiced babies is widely recommended by experts.

Management of jaundice at home along with a few treatment methods helps the little one recover faster. However, it is always best to avoid a disease by working on its prevention.

How Do You Know If Your Baby Has Jaundice

Jaundice In Newborns

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 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

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Rare Causes Of Jaundice In Newborns

One rare type of jaundice occurs when the mother’s and the baby’s blood groups are incompatible . This isn’t usually a problem during a first pregnancy because the mother’s and the baby’s bloodstreams don’t mix. But during the birth, some of the baby’s blood might mix with the mother’s blood.

The mother then develops antibodies that become active during the next pregnancy and cross the placenta to attack a second baby’s red blood cells. The destruction of the red blood cells causes more bilirubin to be released into the second baby’s bloodstream, leading to jaundice. This type of jaundice is usually seen in the first 24 hours after birth.

Biliary atresia is another rare cause of jaundice in babies. It happens when the tiny tubes that carry bile from the liver to the intestine get scarred. Babies with this condition usually grow normally and look well at first, but they will get very ill with serious liver disease if they aren’t diagnosed and treated early. Their jaundice will usually go on after they are 2 weeks of age, and they might also have pale-looking poo.

What Causes Jaundice In Newborns And Babies

These are some of the factors that may increase your babyâs chance of getting jaundice:

  • If youâre breastfeeding your baby and he isnât nursing about 8 to 12 times per day.

  • If your baby was born prematurely. Preemies are more likely to get jaundice than full-term babies because they may be less able to efficiently remove bilirubin from the bloodstream.

  • If you and your baby have what is called ABO incompatibility. ABO incompatibility is when your blood type and your babyâs blood type are different and noncompatible.

  • If your baby was delivered via vacuum extraction. The bruising that may happen on your babyâs head during the procedure could lead to a higher concentration of bilirubin, which leads to jaundice. Your healthcare provider may opt for a vacuum extraction during a vaginal delivery if she decides you need assistance delivering your baby. Injuries that may happen during a vacuum extraction generally have no lasting effects on your baby.

  • If your baby has certain genetic issues that make red blood cells fragile, which means they break down more easily and, therefore, increase bilirubin levels. Your healthcare provider can determine if your baby is at risk of having these particular kinds of genetic issues.

  • If your baby contracts a blood infection called sepsis.

  • If your baby has internal bleeding of any kind.

  • If your Rh factor, which is a protein found on the surface of red blood cells, is negative and your babyâs is positive.

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    When Does Jaundice Usually Occur In Babies

    A majority of healthy newborns have physiological jaundice, which is also called ânormalâ jaundice. This ânormalâ jaundice usually appears about two to four days after birth. It typically doesnât require special treatment and goes away on its own within two or three weeks.

    If jaundice occurs before or after the second to fourth day of birth, it may be caused by something more serious than physiological or ânormalâ jaundice such as a genetic disorder, an infection, or one of the other causes of jaundice listed above.

    What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Jaundice In Newborns

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    The main sign of jaundice is the yellowing of your babys skin. You can see it best in natural lighting, such as in front of a window. It usually appears in your babys face first. The whites of your babys eyes and under their tongue may look yellow. As the level of bilirubin increases, the yellowing may move to your babys chest, belly , arms and legs.

    Jaundice may be difficult to see if your baby has darker skin. But you should still be able to tell if your baby has jaundice by the color of their eyes and under their tongue.

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    What Are The Different Types Of Newborn Jaundice

    There are a few different types of jaundice in newborns.

    Physiological jaundice

    The most common type of jaundice in newborns is physiological jaundice. This type of jaundice is normal. Physiological jaundice develops in most newborns by their second or third day of life. After your babys liver develops, it will start to get rid of excess bilirubin. Physiological jaundice usually isnt serious and goes away on its own within two weeks.

    Breastfeeding jaundice

    Jaundice is more common in breastfed babies than formula-fed babies. Breastfeeding jaundice frequently occurs during your babys first week of life. It happens when your baby doesnt get enough breast milk. It can occur due to nursing difficulties or because your milk hasnt come in yet. Breastfeeding jaundice may take longer to go away.

    Breast milk jaundice

    Breast milk jaundice is different than breastfeeding jaundice. Substances in your breast milk can affect how your babys liver breaks down bilirubin. This can cause a bilirubin buildup. Breast milk jaundice may appear after your babys first week of life and may take a month or more to disappear.

    Other types of jaundice can occur if your baby has an unrelated medication condition.

    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.

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    How Is Hyperbilirubinemia Diagnosed

    The timing of the appearance of jaundice helps with the diagnosis. Jaundice appearing in the first 12-24 hours can be serious and may require early treatment. When jaundice appears on the second or third day, it is usually physiologic or related to dehydration. The physician will usually rely on a bilirubin tool or graph to decide when the level of bilirubin becomes dangerous as infants who are a few days old can tolerate higher levels of bilirubin compared to an infant who is less than 48 hours old. When jaundice appears toward the end of the first week, it may be due to an infection. Later appearance of jaundice in the second week, is often related to breast milk feedings, but may have other causes.

    Diagnostic procedures for hyperbilirubinemia may include:

    • Direct and indirect bilirubin levels. A blood test can determine if the bilirubin is bound with other substances by the liver so that it can be excreted , or is circulating in the blood circulation .

    • Red blood cell count may be used to determine if the baby has too many or too few red blood cells.

    • Reticulocyte count determines the number of young red blood cells, which is an indication of red blood cell production.

    • Blood type and testing for ABO or Rh incompatibility

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    Treating Jaundice At Home

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    If immediate treatment for jaundice isnt required, or when your baby starts improving after treatment in the hospital, well ask you to monitor symptoms at home. Along with yellowish skin and eyes, symptoms can include extreme sleepiness and difficulty feeding and gaining weight.

    Your doctor may recommend:

    • Putting your baby in a warm room with a big, sunny window. Take off all the baby’s clothes and let them sit in the sunlight, which can help break down bilirubin, for an hour or two. This method helps prevent UV damage that direct sunlight outside can cause.
    • Feeding your baby frequently. The more they eat, the more bowel movements theyll have and the more bilirubin theyll excrete. However, this is not a reason to start supplementing with formula if youre breastfeeding, and theres no reason to ever give water to a newborn.

    Jaundice typically develops from the head to the feet. The legs and hands are usually last. If you notice jaundice in these areas, we need to see your baby right away because the jaundice has likely spread through their body and bilirubin levels are high.

    Any time you see new or lingering symptoms of jaundice, talk with your childs pediatrician. Follow-up appointments can help your baby avoid serious complications. While treatment isnt always necessary, we wont know unless we measure and monitor your babys bilirubin level.

    To visit with a pediatrician about jaundice symptoms or treatment, call orrequest an appointment online.

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    What Causes Jaundice In Babies Treatments For Newborn Jaundice

    Treatment for neonatal jaundice varies depending on the severity of the condition. Around five percent of babies who have jaundice are treated using phototherapy where bilirubin is transformed into a less harmful substance that can be processed by the body instead of being deposited into the brain. Phototherapy treatments are available at the hospital and at home. Most of the time, newborns are wrapped in a biliblanket which is equipped with fiber optic cables that shine light on the skin. Babies with newborn jaundice are often kept in an incubator under blue lights while their bilirubin levels are constantly monitored .

    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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    How Is Jaundice In Babies Treated

    One of these three most common treatment methods is used based on the severity of jaundice:

  • is the first choice of treatment in all types of jaundice. The baby is placed in a special hospital crib, wearing only a diaper and an eye-band, illuminated by overhead bulbs emitting light in blue-green spectrum. The light affects excess bilirubin by changing its molecular structure. The modified bilirubin is easily processable by the liver and is expelled through the infants stool and urine. The treatment works well when maximum skin surface receives the light. Biliblankets, which are specialized electrical blankets that emit blue-green light, could be placed under the infant to maximize the effect of the treatment . They are portable and can be placed in the babys crib at home. The duration and frequency of the phototherapy treatment depends on the severity of jaundice .
  • Immunoglobulin injections work specifically against jaundice of hemolysis. An immunoglobulin injection helps bring down the antibody levels in the babys body thus halting the excess loss of RBCs. It invariably leads to lesser bilirubin formation, treating jaundice.
  • Exchange blood transfusion is done when bilirubin rich blood is removed from the babys body and replaced by an equivalent portion of healthy blood. The transfusion is repeated until the entire blood is free of excess bilirubin. This treatment is quite rare and only employed when the baby does not respond to other treatments.
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