Just the term jaundice is enough to scare people away. We all are aware of how threatening jaundice can get if left untreated. Once a person is affected with jaundice we take that extra care to get the person out of his/her condition. And not to mention about the level of care we take towards our just born baby when we get to know that are affected by jaundice.
But you need not feel threatened when your little ones are affected by jaundice. All you need is a little awareness and regular attention from a Doctor.
There are two types of jaundice in existence, one is direct jaundice and the other one is indirect jaundice ( or otherwise called as direct and indirect Bilirubin). Direct jaundice is a condition where the liver fails to function properly or it is affected due to an infection. On the contrary, jaundice that occurs in a just born baby is an indirect one. Every fetus in the mother’s womb will try to adapt itself to its surrounding after it is born. One such adaptation is this indirect Bilirubin or jaundice. This is a natural occurring so there is nothing to worry about. It is in fact so common that almost all the babies go through this.
You might think I am blabbering something stupid, considering how serious jaundice can get. So we will look into this in little more detail so that you will understand it better.
Jaundice usually start to occur in a baby right from the second or third of its birth, this will reach its peak in the fifth or sixth day, and it will usually disappear within 15 days of the initial occurrence. This is as mentioned before is a natural phenomenon.
Why does a just born baby undergo Jaundice?
Red blood cells in our body contain what we call as hemoglobin. Foetus in the womb has high levels of hemoglobin than what we consider as normal. Once a baby is born, its red blood cells will start to break down. Haemoglobin present in these broken down red blood cells will undergo metabolism inside the liver. When this happens we get what we call as Bilirubin. When more number of red blood cells breaks down, it leads to jaundice, which increases the level of Bilirubin. But, after a few days, this accumulated Bilirubin will be flushed out automatically. This will naturally make the babies jaundice free. So there is no separate treatment to treat jaundice in babies. It is enough if the baby is kept under Doctor’s care.
Why some babies undergo several problems due to this jaundice?
The reason is sometimes this natural phenomenon could lead to unexpected changes. What I mean is sometimes jaundice can start to occur on the first day after the baby is born or it the level of bilirubin can reach its peak, or Bilirubin can sometimes take a long time to leave the body. When this happens, jaundice will take a longer time to disappear. Under these conditions, the baby might need additional treatment from a Doctor.
So there is a specific chart that is prepared by researchers that indicates the normal level of Bilirubin for each day after the baby is born. A blood test will be carried out to check the level of bilirubin in the baby after 48 hours of its birth. If the levels are normal with reference to this chart, then we need not have to feel threatened. Baby needs no special treatment for the condition. Jaundice will disappear on its own.
However, if the level of bilirubin is little high than what is considered as normal by the chart on the second and third day, and Doctors feel its level is beyond than what is considered as normal, then the baby may need some special treatment.
What is the treatment for jaundice?
A very simple treatment called Phototherapy will cure the baby of jaundice. In this treatment, the baby will be exposed to a blue color fluorescent light of specific wavelength. The duration of this exposure will be determined by the Doctor. Normally, the bilirubin will be accumulated in the baby’s skin. When the bilirubin is exposed to this light, it undergoes a change and gets dissolved in water present in the body, so it will get expelled during urination.
A few years back the light used in this process created more heat, this lead to uncomfortable feeling for babies. But, presently we started using LED lights, so the babies have started to feel more comfortable. Additionally, babies will be made to wear eye pads, so their eyes are safe.
What happens if this jaundice is left unattended?
If this jaundice is left unattended without proper attention from the Doctor, and the level of Bilirubin shoots beyond the normal range, it can lead to brain damage. The baby’s brain will get affected within two weeks of its birth and it will affect its normal functioning. On some very rare cases, it can even turn fatal. So make sure the just born babies are kept under the regular care of the Doctor with a regular blood test for the first two weeks.
Let us fight jaundice with our awareness.
Though it is quite common for all the babies to have jaundice, there are some additional reasons that trigger this condition. Like
- “O” group blood in mother
- A or B group blood in the baby
- Blood group of the mother being negative while the blood group of the baby brings positive.
- These reasons will increase the breakdown of red blood cells leading to high levels of bilirubin accumulation in the baby’s body.
- At the same time, if the first baby had high levels of bilirubin when it was born, the successive baby or the second baby should be treated with more care.
- Sometimes even the fetus in mother’s womb can have jaundice. In those situations, Doctors will provide treatments to cure the condition quickly. Most hospitals in Big cities are well equipped to carry out this treatment.
- Babies will need extra care even after disappearance of jaundice. If they notice yellow tone in baby’s eyes and skin, it should be immediately brought to Doctor’s attention.