Jaundice in a newborn, referred to as Neonatal jaundice or Neonatal hyperbilirubinemia, is a common condition caused by excess bilirubin in the blood, characterized by the yellowing of the skin and other tissues of a newborn. Bilirubin is produced by the normal breakdown of red blood cells.
Normally, bilirubin passes through the liver and is excreted as bile through the intestines. Jaundice occurs when bilirubin builds up faster than a newborn’s liver can break it down and pass it from the body.
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Jaundice of prematurity is one of the types of jaundice which generally affects premature babies. Physiological jaundice is a common type of Jaundice that is generally seen in newborns caused by the presence of an immature liver.
This usually appears within two or three days of birth and disappears within one or two weeks. Breast-milk jaundice is caused by substances produced in their mother’s breast milk that can cause the bilirubin level to rise. These can prevent the excretion of bilirubin through the intestines.
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Yellowing of skin and eyes is one of the symptoms of Jaundice. The colour, sometimes, begins on the face and then moves down to the chest, belly area, legs, and soles of the feet. Sometimes, infants with significant jaundice have extreme tiredness and poor appetites.
Blood tests help to assess the amount of bilirubin in the blood. A phototherapy treatment can be used to cure the disease in a newborn. If the baby is suffering from Physiological jaundice, treatment is not required – a few minutes of sunbathing should help. Sometimes mothers are requested to stop breast feeding to cure a newborn of breast milk jaundice.
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