Healthcare Information

Jaundice In Babies

This is a very common condition affecting over 90% of newborns.


Why?


Newborns have a limited ability to conjugate bilirubin (yellow pigments which are breakdown products of haemaglobin) during the immediate newborn period. This transient elevated bilirubin (physiological jaundice) is of little consequence unless other factors which increase the total load of bilirubin come into play. Common factors include:
  1. Delay in the normal maturation of the liver function eg. In prematurity
  2. Haemolysis (excessive breakdown of red blood cells) eg. In G6PD deficiency. ABO and Rh incompatibility
  3. Infections

Symptoms

Visible yellowness of skin normally appears around 3rd day of life. The jaundice peaks around the 5th day and subsides by Second week of life. Jaundice which appear earlier than the 3rd day or persists beyond 2 weeks is not physiological and needs thorough investigations to rule out pathological and surgical causes.


Mild to moderate jaundice

Light therapy (phototherapy) provides an effective and reasonably safe treatment for neonatal jaudice. Blue light (wavelength 450 nm) is most effective. Phototherapy works by using light energy to change bilirubin into more water - soluble products to be excreted via the bile and urine.


Severe jaundice

Light therapy and blood exchange transfusion. Putting baby under sunlight is not effective to reduce the bilirubin level.

Dangers of hyperbilirubinaemia (very high levels of bilirubin in the blood)

Brain damage may occur if the bilirubin deposits into the brain.


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