Immediately after birth the color of the skin of a newborn is changing rapidly from pale blue to gray with purple hues, and finally, once it starts breathing becomes soft and pink. Baby’s skin is often a barometer of overall health. Don’t panic! 3-4 days after birth the skin of your baby begins to yellow and the instantaneous diagnosis is neonatal jaundice. In fact, it is not so scary – about 65% of all babies develop neonatal jaundice in the first week of life. In less than 5% of cases leads to the pathologic changes.
The causes of neonatal jaundice are very different – genetic disorders, congenital blood diseases like cystic fibrosis or hypothyroidism blockage or defect in billiard system, injuries sustained during birth, premature birth or malfunctioning liver. Jaundice in infants is often a consequence of the normal physiological process of compensating – babies are born with significantly increased quantities of red blood cells, but still during the first 2-3 days after birth the large amount of unnecessary cells degrade various waste products.
One of these products is a yellow-orange pigment bilirubin, which by the liver is excreted in the bile ducts and intestine. Bilirubin is removed from the body through urine and faeces, but as the liver of the newborn is not yet fully operational to rework it completely, a large amount of pigment is deposited in the skin of the baby, which is due to yellowing. At the beginning it covers the face and sclera (white of the eye), gums, and eventually the whole body – a condition known as hyperbilirubinemia.
Symptoms of Neonatal Jaundice
The main symptoms of neonatal jaundice are not always easily recognizable in the first days after birth. However, if you think something is wrong, it probably is wrong. If bilirubin is greatly increased, often there is a strong yellow discoloration of the urine and, sometimes white stool. Often you may notice that your baby becomes lethargic and completely loses interest in food. Long periods of sleep for more than 5 consecutive hours and sleepiness during meals or sudden and brief wanton screamed also signs that should probably consult a doctor.
Although the neonatal jaundice in regarded as almost inevitable, though there are methods by which to help the little baby to go through this transitional period easier and faster. The best prevention is adequate and effective nutrition. During the first 7-10 days breastfed babies should be fed every hour and a half or two. This not only reduces the risk of pathologic complications, but also stimulates the production of breast milk. In infants fed formula, the recommended diet is about 30 and no more than 60 milliliters of formula every two or three hours.
It is important to remember that the baby’s tummy is small and its congestion often leads to colic or vomiting. It is also important the baby is exposed to possible daylight. It has been proven that the sunlight that covers a large part of the light spectrum, including bilirubin absorbing range can be effectively used for prophylaxis and treatment of physiologic neonatal jaundice. UV light reacts with bilirubin, modify it into a form that does not need to pass through the liver to be expelled, thus eliminating the excess pigment from the body and reduces the risk of jaundice.
There is no reason to keep away from windows babies born during the autumn and winter months. Sunlight is more effective during the winter season, when its intensity is lower.
Neonatal Jaundice Treatment
Most often neonatal jaundice does not require treatment. At the end of the second week after mom spent many hours feeding the little man, the baby again has a pink skin. In rare cases bilirubin levels rise to levels, requiring special blood tests and treatment. Phototherapy is the most effective method of treatment that uses blue-green light in the range 460-490 nm. Light waves are absorbed by the baby’s skin and break down bilirubin to water-soluble compounds that are released from the body much more easily and quickly.
For this purpose, the baby is placed in a special bed in the blue-green light only in a diaper and special protective glasses. How long the treatment will be needed depends solely on how quickly will decrease the value of the pigment. For sure it will make you an impression faeces that resemble diarrhea. Do not worry – the body gets rid of excess bilirubin. The phenomenon is only temporary and cease immediately upon termination of phototherapy.
Very rarely neonatal jaundice goes into pathological and requires exchange transfusion.
Neonatal Jaundice – Important Facts
Most often neonatal jaundice in newborns is not dangerous and resolved by the end of the second week, and the treatment is necessary in very rare cases.
Sugar water by no means is a substitute for breastfeeding and in most cases worsens the jaundice. Full tummy with water stops the baby to eat, reduces the amount of feces, with any opportunity to throw bilirubin. Already evolved in the digestive tract remains bilirubin turns back into insoluble and is sucked back into the circulatory system.
In most cases, babies with jaundice are more lethargic and sleepy than usual, so it is important to stimulate and maintain regular meals.
Bilirubin levels are on average 2-3 milligrams higher in breastfed infants than in babies fed with formulas. Claims that the milk may be harmful, they are completely unfounded. Quite the contrary – the calories provided by milk, give the energy needed for proper functioning of the liver and faster disposal of bilirubin from the baby’s body.