Jaundice in the new-born happens when too much of a natural chemical called Bilirubin builds up in the baby’s blood. Bilirubin is made when the red blood cells reach the end of their life span and breakdown to release bilirubin. New-born red cells containing the foetal haemoglobin are being actively replaced by red cells containing the adult type of haemoglobin. Moreover, the young livers are less efficient in handling the excess bilirubin load. So, babies develop jaundice.
Common Questions Answered
**How Can I Tell If My Baby Has Jaundice?
Bilirubin causes yellowish discoloration of the skin and eyes. In daylight, gently press on the baby’s nose or forehead. If there is yellow tinge to her skin, then she has jaundice. You need to contact your Paediatrician.
**Is Newborn Jaundice A Cause of Worry?
Usually not.In most babies, jaundice starts a couple of days after birth and clears up without any treatment within 1-2 weeks. However, babies may probably need treatment if jaundice does not follow this usual pattern:
-Jaundice appearing within 24 hours of birth
-Jaundice lasting for more than 3 weeks
**How Will I Know If My Baby Needs Treatment for Jaundice?
This depends upon the Bilirubin levels which can be determined by using a small device called Bilirubinometer, or by taking a small sample of blood.Blood test is required if jaundice appears within 24 hours of birth, or if jaundice levels appear especially high.
**Does Sunlight Have A Role in Bringing Down Jaundice Levels?
Sunlight definitely has a role, it covers the wavelengths that are absorbed by bilirubin, babies with mild jaundice can be exposed to sunlight, taking care to prevent hypothermia during winters.
Treatment for Jaundice
If the bilirubin levels are high for age of the new-born, baby is placed under blue light which emits rays at a certain wavelength that is absorbed by the bilirubin and helps to decrease the jaundice.
In case if the jaundice is very high or not decreasing with conventional photo therapy, more than one light source is used to bring down the jaundice.
In case of extremely high Bilirubin levels, baby may need exchange transfusion. This involves some of the baby’s blood gradually being replaced with suitable blood from a donor.