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Disease prevention and treatment

Newborns And Neonatal Jaundice

Bilirubin is a yellow substance produced when red blood cells, which carry oxygen around the body, are broken down.

The bilirubin travels in the bloodstream to the liver. The liver changes the form of the bilirubin so it can be passed out of the body .

Newborns produce more bilirubin than adults do because of greater production and faster breakdown of red blood cells in the first few days of life.

Neonatal Jaundice is the yellow discoloration of the skin and sclera(eyes) of the newborn marked by high levels of bilirubin in the blood within the first fews days of life.

Jaundice are common in preterm babies due to their underdeveloped liver to filter bilirubin out of the body and babies are who are not fed well.

The main cause of neonatal jaundice is excessive bilirubin in the blood of the baby. Other causes due to underlying health problems such as

1.Blood group incompatibility - when the mother and baby have different blood types, the mother’s antibodies attack the baby’s red blood cells.

2.Rhesus disease (a condition that can occur if the mother has rhesus-negative blood and the baby has rhesus-positive blood)

3.A blockage or problem in the bile ducts and gallbladder (the gallbladder stores bile, which is transported by the bile ducts to the gut)

4.An inherited enzyme deficiency known as glucose 6 phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) could also lead to jaundice .

5.Sepsis ( blood infection).

6.Hypoxia– low oxygen level in the blood

7.Abnormality in baby’s red blood cells

The general signs and symptoms of neonatal jaundice includes;

Yellow skin

Yellow eyes(sclera)

Sleepiness or drowsiness

Poor feeding or sucking

Dark urine. A newborn’s urine should be colorless


High-pitch cry



inability to gain weight

Mild jaundice goes away on it’s own.

Treatment of neonatal jaundice includes more frequent breast feeding, phototherapy, drugs, exchange transfusions in severe cases .

Late or untreated neonatal jaundice can cause hearing loss , speech impairment in children, cerebral palsy and Kernicterus (serious form of brain damage, caused by excessive bilirubin levels).

The best preventive of infant jaundice is adequate feeding which should be eight to 12 feedings a day for the first several days of life to help bilirubin pass out of the body quickly.

Always inspect the eyes and skin of your baby for yellowish discoloration of the skin and the eyes first five days of life.

Immediately take your baby to the hospital when you notice the eyes and skin are yellow or any of the above signs. Dont wait till it becomes worse.

Content created and supplied by: O.jWrite (via Opera News )



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