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What is jaundice?

It is easy to know what is meant by jaundice, jaundice is the change our baby's skin color becomes more yellow. These changes not only occur in the skin, but can occur in other parts like the whites of the eyes, skins, urine is more yellow in color, also in other parts of our newborn body that usually looks normal but become more yellow in color. But for sure how big the jaundice problems which is suffered at out baby, then we should immediately consult it to the doctor to examine more intensively.

Jaundice is an illness that can happen in the first few days of a baby's life. It turns your baby's skin, eyes and mouth a yellow color. The yellow color is caused by bilirubin.

Bilirubin is made when the body breaks down old red blood cells. This is a normal process that happens all through life. Bilirubin goes to the liver, where it is changed again. Then it goes into the intestines and the kidneys, and then it goes out of the body. If too much bilirubin builds up in your baby's body, it makes a yellow color called jaundice (say: "john-diss").

Jaundice is common in babies and is usually not serious.

What causes jaundice?

Jaundice is caused by too much bilirubin (bil-e-ROO-bin) in the blood. Bilirubin is a yellow pigment (coloring) released during the normal breakdown of your baby's red blood cells (RBCs). Bilirubin is carried in the bloodstream until your baby's liver takes it. The liver sends the bilirubin to your baby's intestines. Bilirubin leaves your baby's body through his bowel movements (BMs).

Other explanation why my baby get jaundice?

Red blood cells have a shorter life in babies than they do in adults. This means more bilirubin goes through your baby's liver. If your baby's skin is bruised during birth, more red cells may need to be broken down. Then your baby's liver has to handle even more bilirubin. Sometimes a baby's liver is not mature enough to handle the extra bilirubin.

How can I tell if my baby has jaundice?

You should watch for color changes in your baby's skin. You should also check the whites of your baby's eyes and the pink skin inside your baby's mouth. If they get yellowish, you may want to see your baby's doctor. If your baby has pale skin, it should look white when you gently press it with your fingertips. If the skin looks yellow, your baby may have jaundice. If your baby has darker skin, it may be harder to check, except by looking at your baby's eyes and inside your baby's mouth.

Artificial light, especially fluorescent lights, can sometimes fool your eyes into seeing a yellow color that is not really there. So you might want to check your baby in daylight in a sunny room.

As the amount of bilirubin in the blood increases, your baby's body will get more yellow. As the bilirubin level rises, the yellow color can move from your baby's head down to the chest and even down to the toes.

If your baby's skin is yellow, see your baby's doctor right away. The doctor will take a small amount of your baby's blood and measure the bilirubin in it.

What are the indication and symptoms if babies get jaundice?

  • Your baby's skin and the whites of his eyes may turn yellow. Your baby may also have yellowing of the mucus (MEW-kus) membranes. These may include areas of the mouth like the gums and tongue, or the fingernails or toenails.
  • Dark yellow urine or BMs.
  • Tired or very fussy.
  • Your baby does not drink enough fluids.

What types of babies are more likely to get jaundice?

Jaundice happens when your baby's liver cannot remove bilirubin from the blood fast enough. The extra bilirubin that cannot leave the body stores itself in (soaks into) the skin and whites of the eyes. This is a common problem for the following babies:
Premature babies.

  • Babies with bruising (BROO-zing) to their head or body during birth.
  • Babies whose blood was very different than their mother's blood.
  • Babies with liver or other health problems.
  • Babies who are not getting enough liquids.
  • Breast feeding babies.

How is jaundice treated?

If the bilirubin level is not too high, your baby might not need any treatment. Your doctor might just want you to feed your baby breast milk or formula more often.

If the bilirubin level is very high or is getting higher very quickly, your baby will need light therapy. This is also called phototherapy. Phototherapy helps to break down bilirubin in your baby's skin.

For this treatment, your baby is placed under special white, blue or green lights. The baby might also be placed on a special light-producing blanket. Your baby's eyes are covered to protect them from the bright lights. Phototherapy usually lasts for 1 or 2 days.

Phototherapy can give your baby loose stools, temperature problems or dehydration. Your doctor will watch your baby carefully to prevent or treat these problems.

If your baby's bilirubin level gets too high, and phototherapy does not work well enough, the baby might need an exchange transfusion. In this treatment, some of your baby's blood is taken out, and it is replaced with blood from someone else.

If your baby is premature or has other health problems, he may need medical treatment while in the hospital. If you have a healthy baby at home whose jaundice gets worse, he may need in-home treatment. Caregivers may treat your baby with phototherapy (fo-toe-THAIR-uh-pee) or "bili lights". Bili lights and bili blankets (special lighted blankets) may help your baby's skin get back to the normal color. If your baby's jaundice is very serious, he may need an exchange transfusion (trans-FEW-shun), but this is rare. An exchange transfusion is a procedure done to remove and replace your baby's blood. Your baby's blood (blood with too much bilirubin) is replaced with donated blood from the blood bank.

Can jaundice hurt my baby?

Jaundice is not a serious problem in most healthy babies. However, very high bilirubin levels can be dangerous. It can give some babies brain damage.

Your doctor will measure your baby's bilirubin level a number of times. If necessary, your baby will be treated. This usually keeps the bilirubin level from getting high enough to hurt your baby.

How long will my baby have jaundice?

Jaundice lasts for a different time in different babies. Often, the bilirubin level goes up for the first 3 to 4 days and then slowly goes back down. A baby who is breastfed may have mild jaundice for a longer time than a baby who is formula-fed. (by American Academy of Family Physicians & Thomson MICROMEDEX)



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