Newborn Jaundice 101- what it is, what causes it, and how it is treated?
Newborn jaundice is a condition characterized by the yellowing of skin and eyes in babies. It is a common disease that occurs due to a high level of blood bilirubin. Studies highlight that bilirubin is a yellow pigment produced in the body due to the breakdown of erythrocytes or red blood cells. Research shows that every 6 of 10 newborns develop jaundice.
The liver processes this pigment in older babies and adults by passing it through the gastrointestinal tract. Because a newborn baby has a developing liver, he or she may not excrete bilirubin out of the body.
Diagnoses of Newborn Jaundice
A hospital or birth center usually discharges a new mother and her baby within three days of delivery. Health professionals recommend parents bring their newborns in for a checkup within the first week of birth. The purpose is to check the bilirubin levels in the blood and see if the baby is showing any signs of jaundice.
Signs such as yellowed skin or eyes could be in indication the baby has jaundice. However, the doctor will perform additional tests to confirm the occurrence of the condition. The tests also help determine the severity of the disease.
The doctor will perform specific tests, such as complete blood count (CBC), Rhesus factor (Rh) incompatibility, and Coombs test. Coombs tests’ purpose is to determine the intensity of red blood cell breakdown in the newborn’s body.
Treatment for Newborn Jaundice
The most common treatment option for newborn jaundice is phototherapy.
It is a special type of light used to treat this condition. The light reduces bilirubin levels in the blood through photo-oxidation, a process that adds oxygen to the bilirubin, causing it to dissolve easily in water.
During the phototherapy, the doctor will place your baby on a bed under blue light. The baby will wear protective goggles to mitigate the effects of blue spectrum light. Sometimes, the doctor places a fiber-optic blanket underneath the newborn for comfort.
Newborn jaundice is a common infancy condition with symptoms like yellowing of skin and eyes. If you have any concerns about the color of your baby’s skin or eyes, contact your pediatritian.