Newborn Jaundice

Newborn jaundice is a common condition in newborns, affecting over 50 percent of all newborns. The skin and whites of the eyes appear yellow.

The main cause of jaundice is the high level of bilirubin in the blood due to the immaturity and incomplete growth of the liver in the newborn, which results in insufficient absorption of bilirubin.

Symptoms of jaundice appear in the first week of a newborn's life and usually improve or disappear on their own within a week or two without causing the baby any problem. But if the level of bilirubin remains high in the blood, can put a baby at risk for cerebral palsy, or other forms of brain damage.

Types of jaundice in newborns

The American Academy of Family Physicians has classified the incidence of jaundice in newborns according to the following:

1. Physiological jaundice

Physiological jaundice is the most common type of jaundice in newborns, whose liver has not yet fully developed, so their ability to process bilirubin is still deficient or limited.

Physiological Jaundice appears 2-4 days after birth, then disappears within one to two weeks.

The percentage of bilirubin in physiological jaundice in healthy babies is 5-6 mg / dL on the fourth day after birth and then decreases during the following week.

2. Breastfeeding Jaundice

30% of breastfed babies will develop breastfed jaundice 5 days after birth, and bilirubin levels are between 12-20 mg / dL, then levels begin to drop after two weeks. 

3. Pathological jaundice

Pathological jaundice in newborns appears within 24 hours of birth, and bilirubin is elevated above 5 mg / dL per day. It lasts for more than two weeks and more than 21 days in preterm infants.

Diagnosis of jaundice in newborns

One of the most important factors in a baby's recovery from jaundice is the early diagnosis of the disease. Leaving jaundice without diagnosis and treatment puts the baby's life at risk. Jaundice is diagnosed by measuring the level of bilirubin in one of the following ways:

1. A bilirubin measuring device that sheds light on the child's skin and calculates the level of bilirubin by analyzing how the light is reflected or absorbed by the skin. It is usually used to check for jaundice in Babies.

2. A blood test for a sample taken from the heel of the child, where the level of bilirubin in the blood serum is measured. A blood test is necessary if the baby develops jaundice within 24 hours of birth, or if the percentage is high.

Symptoms of jaundice in newborns

Newborns are screened for symptoms of jaundice before they leave the hospital where they were usually born, this examination is repeated every 8 to 12 hours during their stay, but some of the symptoms of jaundice appear between the second and fourth days after birth, among these symptoms:

1. Yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes, which is the most common sign, and yellowing usually begins on the face and spreads to the chest, abdomen, arms, and legs.

2. Baby's stools are pale in color (they should be yellow or orange.)

3. Urine color is dark yellow (Newborn baby's urine should be colorless.)

The symptoms of jaundice in infants who have high levels of bilirubin need to see a doctor, and these symptoms include:

1. Increased prevalence or severity of jaundice in the body.
2. The baby has a fever of more than 38 ° C.
3. The baby's loss of appetite, lack of frequency, and unwillingness to feed.
4. The baby stops growing or does not gain weight.
5. Sleeping continuously, as the baby suffers from lethargy and laziness.
6. The baby's crying loudly.

Causes of jaundice in newborns

The causes of jaundice in newborns are many and appear in the following cases:

1. The immaturity and incomplete growth of the liver completely, which causes insufficient absorption of bilirubin amounts, and thus its high level in the body, which is the most common cause of jaundice. 2. Jaundice associated with breastfeeding the baby, as breastfeeding prevents the liver from the rapid elimination of jaundice, this type appears after the first week of birth, and the rate of jaundice improves from three weeks to 12 weeks. 3. The difference in blood groups between the mother and her baby, as the baby may develop antibodies that destroy red blood cells, which increases the level of bilirubin. 4. Bruising or internal bleeding that the infant is exposed to, it is possible for the baby to suffer such injuries during childbirth. 5. Genetic problems related to the rapid breakdown of red blood cells. 6. Babies born before the 37th week of pregnancy. (Preterm birth). 7. Babies who do not get enough breast milk or formula. 8. Viral and bacterial infections.

Prevention of jaundice in newborns

There are some tips and procedures that a mother can follow to protect her baby from jaundice, and from them:

1. Regular breastfeeding (8 to 12 times a day) in the first days of life, to
improve bowel movement, which leads to the elimination of bilirubin through excretion in stool.

In the case of breastfeeding, it is recommended that the baby breastfeed at least 10 times per day.
In the case of formula milk, the child should be given a feed every two hours by 30 cm with a gradual increase in the amount.

2. Exposing the child's limbs to sunlight in the morning before ten o'clock.

3. Carefully monitor your baby the first five days of life for the symptoms of jaundice, such as yellowing of the skin and eyes.

Correct treatment methods for jaundice in newborns

Often jaundice disappears within two weeks without any treatment, and it just needs to be monitored. If the tests show that the child has very high levels of bilirubin in the blood, you should consult a doctor. The treatment of jaundice varies according to its percentage, type, and age of the newborn, and among the types of treatments that are provided to reduce the level of "bilirubin" in the blood: 1. Increase breastfeeding times to help reduce Jaundice and eliminate bilirubin through stool. reduce or stop feeding for a day if jaundice is related to breastfeeding. 2. Exposing the baby in the nursery to ultraviolet rays of a specific wavelength, and these rays cause a kind of light reaction with the bile substance in the baby's body and break it. 3. Exposing the baby's arms and legs to sunlight in the morning for only five minutes, as the sun's rays contain amounts of radiation that fall in the appropriate wavelength for treatment. 4. In cases of babies whose jaundice persists for a long time without healing or decreasing its percentage, the doctor may prescribe some medications that stimulate liver enzymes. 5. In severe cases, and an increase in the level of bilirubin, and the inability of previous treatments to reduce and remove bilirubin, The treatment is by changing the blood by withdrawing a small amount of the baby's blood through a device designated for that, to purify the excess bilirubin and then return it to the baby's body or change the baby's blood completely.

In conclusion, Jaundice that affects newborns is in most cases simple and does not need treatment, as the body gets rid of it gradually with the continued breastfeeding and bowel movement. and even high cases can be treated easily in dedicated nurseries.

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