Yellowish discoloration of skin and sclera, ” Jaundice” is a commonly met problem for parents of newborn babies. Jaundice is caused by increased level of bilirubin in blood ( serum). Many parents notice yellowness first in the eyes and face and are overly concerned about the problem while others who have previously parented a baby are convinced that even normal newborn babies developed certain amount of yellowish discoloration. Almost 70% of term babies and 80% of prematurely born babies develop some amount of jaundice but around 10% require medical intervention. This means most are physiological jaundice ie benign in nature.
However, since the consequences of severe jaundice leads to brain damage, it is important to differentiate the physiological from pathological jaundice.
Some Frequently asked questions by Parents?
A. When should I be concerned about jaundice?
Certain risk factors increases the chance that jaundice becomes severe needing timely intervention. The absence of these risk factors however does not rule out the chance of developing severe jaundice. Therefore assessment by a clinician whenever you are concerned about jaundice becomes vital.
- Jaundice developing within 24 hours of birth
- When mother blood group is Rh-ve or O blood group ( Rh and ABO incompatibility)
- Premature babies developing jaundice ( < 38 completed weeks gestation babies)
- Signs of underlying illness like vomiting, poor feeding, fever or low tempertature, fast breathing or poor breathing effort.
- Presence of bruises on body, swelling of scalp or blood collection on othersites.
- Intrauterine infections in mother ( TORCH infections)
- Family history of severe jaundice in previous infant
- Persistence of jaundice beyond 3 weeks.
- Passage of white stools.
- Phototherapy- Blue/White light therapy under which babies are kept without clothes to decrease the bilirubin in the blood.
- Exchange transfusion- Exchanging the blood of baby with another blood.
[Disclaimer: The article is intended for information purpose only and should not be used as replacement for Doctor’s consultation. Please see a doctor whenever you are concerned about the baby]