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Can Jaundice Go Away on Its Own in Newborns?
Are you seeing your newborn’s skin turn yellow? If yes, don’t panic; this condition is known as jaundice, which is common and pretty harmless. About 60% of babies get this condition. This blog covers informative content about jaundice, its causes, symptoms, and treatment options.
What is jaundice in newborns?
Jaundice is nothing but the yellowish discoloration seen in the skin when a chemical called bilirubin builds up in the baby’s blood. Bilirubin is a yellow-colored fluid that comes from the normal breakdown of red blood cells and is removed by the liver. Your newborn’s liver is not efficient enough to remove bilirubin like it is in you hence it builds up.
Can jaundice hurt my baby?
Not necessarily. A milder form of jaundice is entirely harmless, but in abnormal situations, when the bilirubin level gets very high can cause brain damage. Therefore, your baby needs to be checked carefully for jaundice.
What causes jaundice in newborns?
Blood contains bilirubin, which comes from the usual breakdown of red blood cells and is removed by the liver. The mother’s liver does this for the baby when the baby is in the womb. Most babies develop jaundice in the first few days after birth, as it takes a few days for the baby’s liver to get better and efficient at removing bilirubin from the body.
Does breastfeeding affect jaundice?
Breast milk (human milk) is the perfect food for your baby after birth for at least 1-2 years. But somehow, jaundice is more commonly seen in breastfed babies than bottle-fed babies. However, this condition occurs explicitly more often in newborns who are not getting enough breast milk because their mothers are not producing enough milk or if breastfeeding is not happening properly.
What are the symptoms?
- If your baby develops jaundice, his skin will appear yellowish. It will begin on the face, followed by the chest, stomach, and legs. The whites of your baby’s eyes will also look yellowish.
- Your baby may also start feeling sleepy, fussy, floppy, or having trouble feeding if the bilirubin levels remain high for a long time.
Jaundice may be difficult to observe, especially in babies with dark skin. If in doubt, softly press the skin on your baby’s nose or forehead, in case of jaundice the skin will turn yellow once you lift your finger.
How is jaundice in newborns diagnosed?
Your doctor will detect jaundice based on your baby’s appearance. However, it is still important to measure the bilirubin level in your baby’s blood. This is done by:
- A physical exam
- A laboratory test of your baby’s blood
- A skin test with a light machine that measures bilirubin in the skin.
- Your doctor may advise some additional blood tests or urine tests if it gets confirmed that an underlying disease causes your baby’s jaundice.
How is jaundice treated?
Treatment of your newborn will depend on the cause of jaundice, the bilirubin levels, and your baby’s age. A milder form of jaundice will go away after 1 or 2 weeks as your baby’s body gets rid of the extra bilirubin on its own.
If your baby is not getting enough breast milk, the doctor may advise bottle feeding.
For the more severe types of jaundice, your baby will be treated immediately in the hospital itself. The treatment includes:
- Administration of fluids as loss of fluids in your baby’s body may cause bilirubin levels to rise.
- Phototherapy: Your baby will be kept under lights with little clothing so that maximum skin is exposed. The light will change the bilirubin to a form that can easily pass out of the body.
- Blood transfusion: This emergency procedure is done if bilirubin levels do not come down with just phototherapy. Here, your baby’s blood is replaced with blood from a donor to reduce the bilirubin levels quickly.
Jaundice may also happen if you have a different blood type from your baby. In this situation, your body makes antibodies that attack your baby’s red blood cells. Your doctor gives you special shots when you’re pregnant to prevent this.
It isn’t much you can do to prevent typical jaundice in your newborn. But you can make it go away early by ensuring that your baby is well fed (through breastfeeding or bottle-feeding). Carefully monitor your newborn for the first five days of life for the symptoms of jaundice.
To know more about this condition, reach out to our experts who will guide you and ensure the safety of your newborn.
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