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Jaundice in Newborn Babies - Pathological?

Updated on September 22, 2015

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

Newborn Jaundice

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.

Dear friends, if you found this information useful, please vote it up

© 2011 JR Krishna


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    • thumbi7 profile image

      JR Krishna 5 years ago from India

      Oh! Great!

      Glory to the contact lenses:)

    • dipsmi profile image

      dipsmi 5 years ago from Plymouth, Minnisota

      thumbidear thanks for the compliment, I give the credit to my contact lenses and my to my dad who literally pestered me to try them. Today , I am more comfortable in contacts as compared to glasses.

    • thumbi7 profile image

      JR Krishna 5 years ago from India


      You look stunning in your profile photo:)

      Can't make out you have eye problem

      Take care:)

    • dipsmi profile image

      dipsmi 5 years ago from Plymouth, Minnisota

      I had jaundice when I was a new born as a result my eyes were effected. Still wear glasses now :(

    • thumbi7 profile image

      JR Krishna 6 years ago from India

      Thank you Writing By Cyndi.

    • Writing By Cyndi profile image

      Writing By Cyndi 6 years ago

      Great read. I work in the medical field and found your article to be full of useful information!


    • thumbi7 profile image

      JR Krishna 6 years ago from India

      I am glad that you responded immediately after I published the hub. My hugs and kisses for your little Lily.

    • nasake profile image

      nasake 6 years ago from England

      to reinforce it is very common and nothing to worry about. My little Lily was Jaundice at birth and she was slowly getting out of it for up to about 3 weeks. It doesn't hurt them or anything like that, and we left her by the window, but the sun in England isn't what you'd call hot.

      Your midwifes and health visitors should also give you little tips on what to do.