Jaundice in Newborn Babies - Pathological?
Birth of a baby is the happiest moment for parents and family. All cultures in human civilisation, celebrate child birth in different ways. But the occasion is also accompanied by small worries about the health of the mother or baby, the most common being jaundice in newborn.
It is not very uncommon among new born to have jaundice. But are we equipped with adequate knowledge about the condition? Many parents and family will be under tension because of lack of knowledge, if the new born is jaundiced.
Here are some common doubts and their clarifications
Is it common to have jaundice among new born?
60 % of the new born develop jaundice within the first week of birth. The yellow colour of jaundice is produced by the presence of excessive bilirubin in the blood. Bilirubin is produced when the red blood cells disintegrate. The immature liver in the new born is not capable of handling the excessive bilirubin produced and the baby develops yellowish discolouration of the skin and mucous membranes.
The yellowish discolouration depends on the level of bilirubin in blood. If there is only a slight increase in bilirubin, there can be yellowish discolouration of the neck and face. If the bilirubin is more, there can be yellowish discolouration of the chest and severely increased, it can be seen even on the legs and feet.
Commonly jaundice develops two or three days after the birth, increases for three or four days and gradually comes down. 80% of the preterm babies can have jaundice.
When do they become jaundiced?
Jaundice can occur in babies with problems of internal organs, lack of thyroid hormones and infection. Jaundice in new born can be physiological or pathological. Physiological jaundice occurs commonly two to three days after the birth and it will be relieved within one week. Here, there will be not be yellowish discolouration of the urine and this type of jaundice is not a cause of worry or concern as it resolves by itself.
In pathological type of jaundice, there will be yellowish discoloration from the first day of birth. Urine and stools also will be dark in colour. If it is pathological, special attention is to be given to find the cause and treat it.
Is sunlight a treatment for jaundice in new born?
Baby may be exposed to early morning sunlight or late evening sunlight as per the advice from the treating doctors. But it is not advisable to expose them to intense heat of sunlight as it may cause sunburns on the skin of the baby.
What are the treatments available for jaundice in new born?
There are different measures to assess which type of jaundice the baby is suffering from. If it is a pathological jaundice, further investigations may be needed to reach at the cause of it and the underlying cause is treated.
Phototherapy is used in most of the cases to treat jaundice. Bilirubin can absorb blue light (450 to 460 nm) and excess bilirubin is excreted through urine and sweat after disintegration. Efficiency of phototherapy increases with a large surface area and increased amount of bilirubin. The eyes of the baby are covered with eye patches to prevent retinal damage.
If the condition is severe, baby may be given exchange blood transfusion and immunoglobulins.
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© 2011 JR Krishna