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How To Identity Jaundice In Newborn

By Devika

Newborn jaundice is not uncommon. Although quite stressful for the parent, you should be aware of the fact that a large number of newborns do face this health issue and when treated immediately and accurately, the symptoms slowly die down and your little one is back healthy.

jaundice
  • Newborn Jaundice
  • Causes Of Newborn Jaundice
  • Understanding Newborn Jaundice
  • Symptoms Of Newborn Jaundice
  • When Should You Approach The Doctor?

Newborn Jaundice

This is a condition wherein the whites of the eye and the skin begin to turn yellowish in colour. This usually begins couple of days after birth. Going by various studies, almost about half of all newborns develop mild levels of jaundice in the first few days after birth.

However, when premature babies are compared against full-term babies, premature ones tend to have jaundice at higher levels and that lasts longer. One should remember that if bilirubin levels become extremely high in the newborn, then it could lead to other health complications such as brain damage, deafness and cerebral palsy.

Causes Of Newborn Jaundice

Jaundice in newborns generally occurs because newborns produce high amounts of bilirubin. This is referred to as physiologic jaundice. Bilirubin is produced when the red blood cells break down. The removal of bilirubin from the body is done by the liver. In newborns, the amount of bilirubin produced is pretty high than what the liver can process.

Understanding Newborn Jaundice

The normal physiologic jaundice usually shows up a few days post birth and resolves (most of the time on its own) within two weeks of time. Jaundice occurring otherwise to a newborn is primarily related to issues of breastfeeding, blood type mismatch between mother and child, infection or other forms of liver and blood ailments.

Most of the times, jaundice appears after the mother and child have been discharged from the hospital post the newborn's birth. Your pediatrician is likely to schedule a checkup of your newborn within a week of his or her birth. This is usually done to check for symptoms of jaundice in the infant.

However, as a parent, you need to be careful in approaching your doctor immediately if you start seeing signs and symptoms of jaundice in your newborn. Jaundice is an illness that requires immediate medical intervention, so that no form of damage occurs to the health of the baby.

Symptoms Of Newborn Jaundice

The very first sign of jaundice occurring in a newborn is the yellowing of the white of the eye and the skin. This usually begins to appear between the second and the fourth days after the birth of the child.

To check if your newborn has developed jaundice, slightly press on the infant's nose or forehead.

If the skin appears yellow when pressed, it indicates that your child has developed mild jaundice. If there is no jaundice, then the skin when pressed would appear a bit lighter than the normal skin colour at that moment. This examination of the infant is best done under natural daylight - this would show better results and help you identify whether your child is developing jaundice or not.

When Should You Approach The Doctor?

Most of the hospitals do conduct an examination of the baby's health prior to discharge. However, as jaundice could develop sometimes four or five days after birth, there are chances that your baby develops jaundice after you have been discharged and are home with your little bundle of joy.

According to the recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatrics, newborns should be thoroughly examined for the presence of jaundice every 8 to 12 hours during their stay in the hospital.

Once you are back home, your doctor might advise you to come back for a routine medical checkup of the baby usually sometime between the third and the seventh day post birth - this is the period when the bilirubin levels usually rise.

If you have had a normal delivery and all is well, you might be discharged along with the baby earlier than 72 hours post delivery. If this is the case, you are advised to make a follow-up appointment with your pediatrician within two days of discharge to check for jaundice levels in the newborn.

Also, it is good to know some of the signs of jaundice which should indicate that it is time you should get your newborn checked by the doctor. Do contact your doctor immediately in case you see the below symptoms in the baby.

• Skin turns more yellow than how it was when discharged or previously checked by the doctor

• Baby's skin turns yellow on the legs, abdomen and arms

• The whites of the baby's eye begin to turn yellow

• Baby is finding it difficult to take feeds properly

• Baby does not gain weight

• Baby seems to be sick - when you find it difficult to awaken your child

• The cries of the baby are high pitched

• When jaundice that has occurred immediately post birth continues to last more than three weeks

• When there are any other abnormal signs that your baby begins to show

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    Read more about: jaundice remedies
    Story first published: Wednesday, June 13, 2018, 10:00 [IST]
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