Parents-to-be and new parents only want their babies to be healthy when they are born and as they grow up. One thing no one anticipates when welcoming a new baby is jaundice in the newborn.
Jaundice in the newborn, or hyperbilirubinemia, is the high amounts of bilirubin in the body of the child. This condition makes the newborn have yellow pigmentation in its skin and in the sclera (the white) of the eyes. It is a very common condition and, in most cases, it is not harmful to the baby.
Bilirubin is a yellow-coloured pigment that is naturally produced in all adults and children, as the by product of the breakdown of red blood cells. This bilirubin is processed in the liver and then excreted from the body via urine and faeces.
This process happens normally in the adults and children; and when this process is disrupted in any way, it can cause jaundice. In the case of newborns, their liver is still immature to process the bilirubin and may take a few hours to days, to start processing it.
During this period, it is normal that the baby develops jaundice. This jaundice of the newborn goes away once the baby's liver starts to function normally.
While in most cases of newborn jaundice, there is nothing to worry, sometimes it may also be a sign of an underlying problem. Prolonged newborn jaundice or jaundice that does not go away can also cause other medical problems to develop. The complications include brain damage, cerebral palsy and deafness.
Today, we shall learn more about jaundice in newborns. We shall also look at a few home remedies that can help thwart or cure the jaundice in newborn babies. Read on for more information.
Which newborns are at the most risk of developing jaundice?
While all newborns can develop jaundice, it is seen that the neonatal jaundice affects the following categories the most:
- Babies that are born prematurely. Babies born before they complete 37 weeks of gestation are more likely to develop jaundice.
- Babies that aren't being fed properly. This can be due to many reasons. In many occasions, the mother's milk comes in late. Babies can be formula fed if the mother is not able to breastfeed. But it too may not be possible if the baby has other complications.
- Babies that have a blood group that is not compatible to that of the mother.
Causes Of The Newborn Jaundice
- In normal cases, the immature liver is not able to process the natural amounts of bilirubin in the baby's body. This can cause neonatal jaundice. This usually goes away without much medical intervention.
- Bruising during the birthing process or an internal damage caused during the child birth can cause jaundice in the newborn.
- The baby may have liver problems and anomalies leading to jaundice.
- Abnormal red blood cells may be a reason for abnormally high levels of bilirubin.
- Enzyme deficiency
- An infection can also cause jaundice in newborns
What are the symptoms of jaundice in newborns?
Jaundice in newborns can be easily recognized. It usually starts within a day or two after the birth and peaks after 3 days after birth. The yellowing of the skin usually starts from the face and then gradually spreads to the rest of the body.
You can make sure by gently pressing the skin of the baby. In the cases of jaundice, the pressed area turns yellowish.
When to contact your baby's doctor?
It is best to talk to your doctor as soon as you suspect jaundice in your baby. In most cases, the baby and mother are discharged from the hospital in 72 hours of birth. In such cases, it is important to keep an eye out for jaundice in the baby. Look out for the following signs:
- Your baby doesn't eat properly. The baby looks tired and lethargic. High-pitched cries also indicate a problem.
- The yellow colour on the baby turns a darker shade.
- The suspected jaundice spreads.
- The baby has a fever of over 100 degree Fahrenheit.
Home Remedies For Jaundice In Newborn
As the jaundice in the newborn usually resolves itself in the first few days, there is nothing much to do except feeding the baby well and keeping an eye out to see if the symptoms worsen.
If the jaundice seems to be high, the baby is usually kept at the hospital and is subjected to phototherapy. Phototherapy helps breakdown the bilirubin in the body of the baby. If there is no other issue, you may try some home remedies to cure the jaundice and prevent it if the baby is now free of jaundice.
If the baby doesn't need phototherapy to help with the jaundice, you can try exposing the baby to the sunlight. Hold the baby in a light sunlight with only a diaper on. Do not expose the baby to direct or intense sunlight, as the baby may be sunburned. Make sure that the baby is not out unclothed for a long period of time, as the baby may get cold.
Wheat grass juice
Wheat grass helps in removing toxins from the body of the baby. If the baby is formula milk fed, a few drops of wheat grass juice can be added into the formula before being fed to the baby. If the baby is breastfed, the mother must consume the wheat grass juice, as the baby will receive it from the breast milk.
The baby must be frequently fed. If the baby cannot be breastfed due to some reason, formula milk should be given. Up to 12 feedings every day will be good for your baby. Frequent feedings will help flush out the bilirubin and help the liver function well. The baby will also remain well hydrated.
Stop the breastfeeding temporarily
In some babies, the mother's milk may cause the baby to develop jaundice. In such cases, the mother will have to stop the breastfeeding for a while. In the meantime, the baby must be well fed with formula and the mother must keep pumping the milk out to ensure a good supply when the baby is ready for the breast milk.
Zizyphus Jujuba extract
The extract of the jujube is known to be beneficial in curing neonatal jaundice. A few drops of this extract can be fed to the baby to help with the jaundice.
Supplements with the formula
If the baby is being formula fed, your doctor may prescribe supplements that can help in curing the baby's jaundice.
Special sun lamps are available as an alternative method to the phototherapy given at the hospital. The lamp therapy helps in breaking the bilirubin down. This is then excreted via urine by the baby.
Biliblanket is a way to provide the baby with phototherapy at home. The baby is wrapped in the blanket and is given phototherapy to help with the jaundice.
Herbal supplements to be consumed by the mom
The mom can consume herbal supplements like comfrey tea, dandelion tea and catnip. These herbal products are naturally detoxifying and the baby receives its benefits through the breast milk.