How to Treat Jaundice in New Born Baby

June 21, 2013 by  
Filed under Baby Problems

How to treat jaundice in new born babyJaundice is a common condition in infants, affecting over 50% of all newborns. Jaundice is common for premature babies- more often in boys than girls. It appears mostly in the first week of life.

Infant jaundice is also known as physiological jaundice , a condition in which the baby’s skin, and the sclera (white part of the eye) appears yellow.

Symptoms of jaundice in new born baby

Apart from yellowing skin and eyes, other symptoms of infant jaundice include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Poor sucking/feeding
  • Itchy skin
  • Pale stools – breastfed babies should have greenish-yellow stools, while those of bottle fed babies should be a greenish-mustard color.
  • Dark urine – a newborn’s urine should be colorless

Causes for jaundice in new born baby

A baby in the womb is totally dependent on his/her mother for food and oxygen, which reach the umbilical cord that connects him/her to the mother. The distribution of oxygen through the baby’s body is aided by the additional red blood cells present in the baby’s blood. After birth, the baby begins to breathe through his/her lungs and hence, does not need the additional red blood cells. His/her body will start disposing off the extra cells, soon after birth. These red blood cells are destroyed in spleen. A major by-product, thus produced, is bilirubin. The liver removes the bilirubin from the bloodstream and passes it on to the intestines of the baby.

Since the infant’s liver is still in its developing stage, it is unable to manage the sudden increase in bilirubin, during the first few days post birth. As a result, large amounts of bilirubin mixes in the blood, thereby, making the baby’s skin appear yellowish, which is a symptom of jaundice. During pregnancy the fetus’ blood bilirubin is removed by the mother’s liver. Although it is natural to find newborns suffering from jaundice in the first few days post birth, a high concentration of bilirubin in the blood is considered a serious case. In such a situation, you should get the condition monitored by the doctor.

There are several underlying factors for jaundice in new born baby. Some reasons include:

  • Liver disease.
  • An abnormality of the baby’s red blood cells.
  • Blocked bile duct or bowel.
  • Sepsis – a blood infection.
  • Rhesus incompatibility – when the mother and baby have different blood types, the mother’s antibodies attack the baby’s red blood cells.
  • Enzyme deficiency.
  • Bacterial or viral infections.
  • Hypothyroidism – underactive thyroid gland.
  • Hepatitis – an inflammation of the liver.

Treating jaundice in new born baby

  • Breastfeeding is one of the most effective ways to reduce the amount of bilirubin in the blood of the newborn, because mother’s milk contains some of the important nutrients required for the development of the baby’s functional organs. Initiate the breastfeeding relationship as soon as possible after birth. Breast-feed your baby every two hours post birth. Frequent feeding can help the baby pass the excess bilirubin through his poop and thus, reduce the jaundice symptoms.
  • Sunbath is an effective remedy to treat jaundice in newborns. Remove the clothes of your baby and place him/her under direct sunlight or in a warm room for about 10 minutes. The best time to sunbathe the baby is early morning hours, between 7 am and 8 am. Lay your baby on a blanket, under the window, so that the sun’s rays bathe his/her entire body. Be sure to block your newborn’s to avoid direct sunlight.
  • How to treat jaundice in new born babyIn case the levels of bilirubin in your infant’s blood are high, the doctor will administer phototherapy to treat the problem. During the treatment, your baby will be monitored under ‘special lights’ at the hospital, for 24 hours or 2 days. Usually the baby is naked, wearing only protective eye patches. The special lights will eliminate jaundice by reducing the bilirubin levels. The baby is put under a special light, covered by a plastic shield to filter out ultraviolet light, that influences the structure of bilirubin molecules so they can be excreted; sometimes it is useful to use a light-emitting mattress under the baby as well.
  • Another way to treat jaundice in newborn is to substitute breastfeeding with formula. Depending upon the level of bilirubin in the baby’s blood, the doctor may suggest to feed the baby on a formula (similar to mother’s milk), for about 48 hours. After the bilirubin levels are back to normal, the physician would suggest to switch back to breastfeeding.

Parents take away the stress and worry. When you are free from worries half the problem is solved.  The mother will be active, happy with the baby’s arrival and generate more breast milk for the baby. Change diapers in time to avoid baby feeling cold.

Baby will be drowsy, wake up baby and feed the baby at regular intervals. Jaundice will make baby sleepy. Avoid water supplements. Breast milk is the best natural resource available to treat jaundice. Follow the Doctor’s advise at all times.

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