Jaundice is a word you will hear a lot especially when you have a newborn. It is among the most common health conditions among infants and can be quite troublesome.
What causes Jaundice?
The culprit behind jaundice is a chemical called bilirubin. This is when the chemical builds up in the blood and then shows itself through the skin, usually yellow in colour. It has to be noted that bilirubin is found in the blood and usually come from the red blood cells. The liver will remove it from the blood. Infants usually get jaundice (the first few days after birth) because the liver is not as efficient in removing bilirubin yet. Before birth, this process is undertaken by the mother’s liver.
Is your baby having jaundice?
The best way to know if your infant is having jaundice is by examining the skin colour. If the skin appears yellowish (in some cases looks pale), then there is a high chance your baby is having this condition. You should check this under good white lighting. It can be daylight or fluorescent lighting. In most cases, the yellow shades will first start from the face before moving downwards. You might start noticing this along the whites of the eyes too.
How harmful is jaundice?
Jaundice generally is harmless. However, if it is confirmed that your baby has jaundice, you should get it checked with the doctor. After all, any unusual health conditions will need an expert opinion when it comes to babies. If the bilirubin level is too high, it could be dangerous but this is highly unlikely.
Treatment for jaundice
You must be aware that your baby would get jaundice in the first few days after birth. However, not every baby will get jaundice so you need to monitor the condition closely. In most cases, the doctor will carry out a blood test to estimate the bilirubin level. If it is confirmed that your baby has jaundice, then the common treatment is to place him under a special light to bring down the bilirubin level. This is a standard procedure at the hospital or clinic while you can do it at home as well. ANother method is to bring your baby to be under the sun for 15 minutes or maybe more but it must be before 10 am in the morning.
Is breastfeeding and jaundice related?
Jaundice is actually more common among babies who are breastfed than those on formula milk. This does not mean that you should not breastfeed your baby. Take note that jaundice is often regarded as a natural progression of growth for the baby. As such, you should proceed with breast milk for your baby because the lack of it might lead to jaundice anyway.
If you are breastfeeding your infant and he gets jaundice, it will take a while before the yellow colour goes away. The most common duration is about 2 weeks. It might last for up to 1 month or slightly longer before the skin returns to its original colour. There is no reason to be alarmed yet. If the yellow does not go away after 2 months, then you should refer this to your doctor.