What Causes Jaundice in Newborns

It is when the levels of bilirubin go very high that the baby seems jaundiced and symptoms appear below the knees and over the palms of the baby. An easy method to identify the presence of jaundice is to press the finger against the skin of the baby, pushing away the blood that flows in the area. If the skin is normal, it remains white, but if jaundiced, it turns yellow. Jaundice is mostly manifested, when the amounts of bilirubin in the body goes more than two milligrams per deciliter. For the newborns, the jaundice is manifested only when the levels of bilirubin rise more than 5 milligrams per deciliter.

It is important to understand that increased levels of bilirubin may cause permanent impairment to the child by any means and may also lead to damage of the brain. This is referred to as kernicterus. However, with the increase in the knowledge and the amount of awareness, kernicterus has become rare. It is important to seek medical assistance, when the doctor is aware of the phenomenon of jaundice and you observe your child to have jaundice. Also, if the jaundice lasts beyond one week or spreads to the arms and the legs, it is high time to approach the doctor.

Even before treatment for infantile jaundice can begin, it is important to identify the cause of the jaundice in the infant. A careful examination is required and in a few cases, there are blood tests that are also required. The levels of bilirubin in the serum should be checked. Based on the results from this test, the doctor may come to a conclusion or request for other types of tests to be performed. Few pediatricians use a certain type of instrument called as the Bilicheck that helps to identify the levels of bilirubin in the blood.

Coomb’s test is yet another test that helps to determine the levels of antibodies in the blood that tend to destroy the red blood cells of the infant. Also, a comprehensive blood count may be necessary at times. On the other hand, reticulocyte counts may also be performed just to ensure that the baby is generating sufficient amount of red blood cells. Certain type of blood cell deficiency is found in people who originate from the Mediterranean. They harbor specific type of deficiency called as the G6PD, which is specific to their sect and origin.

Placing the baby in sunlight is more important as it helps to breakdown the levels of bilirubin in the blood with ease. If the levels of bilirubin are too high, they might also be a need to be placed under a certain special type of light and thus, this treatment is referred to as phototherapy. With the advent of latest technological measures, it is important to understand that infantile jaundice, although common, is one disease or a syndrome that can be treated with ease.  

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