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What Is Newborn Jaundice?

Newborn jaundice is a yellowing of a baby’s skin and eyes. This is very common and it occurs when babies have high levels of bilirubin – a yellow pigment produced in the body during normal breakdown of red blood cells.


 

IS IT SERIOUS?
Fortunately, Mothers do not need to worry much because newborn jaundice goes away on its own as the baby’s liver starts to develop as well as feeding is introduced. In most cases, jaundice will disappear within 2 to 3 weeks.  

 

HOW TO KNOW YOUR BABY HAS JAUNDICE? IF HE/ SHE HAS…

  • Yellowing of the skin, eyes, palms of the hands or soles of the feet
  • Dark, yellow urine (should be colorless)
  • Pale-colored poo (should be yellow or orange)
  • Sleepiness
  • Poor feeding in baby

Extent of Jaundice with Baby

 

CAN NEWBORN JAUNDICE BE PREVENTED?
Unfortunately, there’s no real way to prevent newborn jaundice. Mothers should have blood type tested and once the baby is born, the blood type should be tested as well, mainly to rule out the possibility of blood type incompatibility that can lead to newborn jaundice. If your baby does have jaundice, there are still ways to prevent it from becoming more severe. 

  • Make sure your baby is getting enough nutrition through breastmilk, otherwise suitable formula milk. 
  • Feed your baby at least 8 to 12 times a day to ensure that your baby is not dehydrated. This helps the removal of bilirubin through stools.

 

WHEN TO CONTACT A MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL?

All babies should be reviewed by a doctor in the first 5 days of life to check for jaundice. Jaundice is an emergency and you should bring your baby to the doctor if the baby has a fever, has become listless, not feeding well, skin is bright yellow, or it continues to increase which lasts longer than 2 weeks.

 

SUMMARY

Newborn jaundice cannot be prevented. However, need to make sure the baby is getting enough breastmilk/ formula milk to prevent it from becoming more severe.

 

Article written by:

Christabelle Chong (Dietitian)

Registered Member of Malaysian Dietitians’ Association (MDA)

 

 

REFERENCES

  1. Healthline Parenthood (2017). Understranding Newborn Jaundice. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/newborn-jaundice#prevention
  2. Medline Plus (n.d). Newborn Jaundice. Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/001559.htm 

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