Jaundice is a very common disorder among newborns, especially those that are premature. While most cases of infant jaundice are harmless in which the body heals itself, sometimes the signs of jaundice in newborn babies can aggravate and take a turn for the worst.
What causes jaundice in babies?
Jaundice occurs due to elevated bilirubin levels in the blood. In adults, the liver processes bilirubin and passes it through the intestinal tract. However, an infant’s liver, which has not fully developed, may not be able to break down and remove excess bilirubin from the system. When this happens, the bilirubin level in the blood rises.
Other factors that may cause your child to develop jaundice are –
- Premature birth
- Not getting enough breast milk
- Incompatible blood type with that of the mother
- An enzyme deficiency
- An infection
- Liver disorders – resulting in hepatocellular jaundice
- Traces of abnormality in red blood cells
What are the signs of jaundice in newborns?
Bilirubin levels are at its peak between 3 to 7 days after birth. This is why most jaundice cases are also reported within the first week of birth.
The most prevalent sign of jaundice in infants is yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eye. The yellowing, usually on the face, starts within 2-4 days after birth, and gradually spreads to other parts of the body – chest, arms, legs, and stomach.
Additionally, you should also keep an eye out for the following symptoms –
- Poor feeding
- Pale stools
- Dark urine
- Poor weight gain
- Skin turning yellow when pressed
As soon as you notice any of the symptoms discussed above, rush the baby to a doctor.
When to call a doctor?
You should visit a doctor if your baby –
- Acts or looks sick
- Is not feeding well
- Appears lethargic, floppy or sleepier than usual
- Develops a high fever
Untreated jaundice in new-borns can put your baby at risk of bilirubin encephalopathy – brain damage caused by high levels of bilirubin. However, proper and timely treatment can save your baby from jaundice and its underlying complications.
Newborns are susceptible to a host of ailments, and jaundice is one of them. Know the signs so that if your baby has Jaundice, you can seek medical help. Remember that every minute matters, so consult a doctor at the earliest.