What are the Symptoms of Jaundice in Newborn Baby?

December 11, 2014 by  
Filed under Baby Problems

symptoms-jaundice-newborn-babyMost babies are sent home after 1 or 2 days of birth, parents will have to watch their new born baby for any signs of jaundice.

Symptoms of jaundice:

Jaundice first appears on the babies face and head. As the level of bilirubin increases in the blood, the body will start showing on the body and further high levels are indicated by coloration on the palms of the hand and soles of the feet.

Testing for jaundice

Simple test that can be done at home is to press your finger tip on the tip of your child’s nose or forehead. After you lift your finger if you observe the skin is white there is no jaundice. But if you see yellowish color, consult your doctor immediately.

Blood test for jaundice

Blood test is recommended to identify the level of bilirubin and the treatment to be followed thereafter based on the blood test results and the baby’s health condition.

Serum Bilirubin values

Since 97% of term babies have serum bilirubin values <13 mg/dl, all infants with a serum bilirubin level >13 mg/dl require a minimum work up.

Causes of jaundice

Excess bilirubin (hyperbilirubinemia) is the main cause of jaundice. Bilirubin is responsible for the yellow color of jaundice, it is a normal part of the pigment released from the breakdown of “used” red blood cells.

Normally, the liver filters bilirubin from the bloodstream and releases it into the intestinal tract. A newborn’s immature liver often can’t remove bilirubin quickly enough, causing an excess of bilirubin. Jaundice due to these normal newborn conditions is called physiologic jaundice, and it typically appears on the second or third day of life.

Treatment for jaundice

Most babies who are well and healthy need not undergo treatment. As the liver matures, it will break the bilirubin into other chemicals which can be passed out through the gut.

phototherapy-jaundice-newborn-babyHowever Phototherapy (or light therapy) is recommended for babies whose level is getting higher. Light energy helps change the bilirubin that is just under the skin into a different chemical which is more easily passed out of the baby’s body (excreted). Babies may need phototherapy mandatorily for 48 hrs with breastfeeding the baby every 2 hrs to remove excess bilirubin from the body thru’ urine or stool. Phototherapy is safe and effective. The process followed is:

  • Babies will be placed in a warm covered cot. They may be able to stay in their mother’s room or they may need to be moved to the ward nursery.
  • They will have eye shields placed over their eyes.
  • They will be nursed naked so that the maximum amount of light can fall on their skin.
  • More number of feeds while the baby is having phototherapy.
  • You will be encouraged to continue to care for your baby as much as possible.
  • Blood tests are usually done daily to work out if your baby still needs phototherapy.

Examination for jaundice

Your baby should be examined for jaundice between the third and seventh day after birth, when bilirubin levels usually show peaks. If your baby is discharged earlier than 72 hours following birth, make a follow-up appointment to look for jaundice within two days of discharge.

Consult a doctor when you see the following symptoms:

  • Your baby’s skin becomes more yellow
  • Your baby’s skin looks yellow on the abdomen, arms or legs
  • The whites of your baby’s eyes look yellow
  • Your baby looks less energetic or sick or is difficult to awaken
  • Your baby makes high-pitched cries
  • Your baby isn’t gaining weight or is feeding poorly
  • Your baby develops any other signs or symptoms that concern you

Jaundice lasts more than three weeks. After you complete phototherapy you can continue sunlight therapy. Take the baby to indirect sunlight early in the morning. The sun rays is also good to reduce the color for the baby.

Parents should not panic. Be alert and identify symptoms at the early stage. Do follow-up visits to the hospital after birth for routine checks.

Happy parenting!

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Also read:

How to Treat Jaundice in New Born Baby
What to feed when my child has watery motions – Diarrhea
Umbilical cord care: Basics for a New mom
Vaccines for your baby – Immunization schedule
What are the Soft Spots on my Newborn Baby’s head?


Related posts:

  1. How to Treat Jaundice in New Born Baby

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