Newborn Baby Jaundice
Understanding baby jaundice and what to do if your newborn has jaundice.
Jaundice is caused by an immature liver that can't remove and change the bile pigment fast enough. Another cause that is very dangerous is the G6PD deficiency. This is glucose6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency. A baby with this has red blood cells that break down easily. It causes a large amount of bile pigment to be released and the liver can't cope with changing this bile into a non-poisonous substance. Bile accumulates in the blood and the baby's skin appears yellow. If the jaundice is too severe, it causes brain damage.
If jaundice appears, the baby needs to be seen by a doctor immediately. He will then extract a tiny blood sample to test for the bile pigment level. He will then confirm whether the jaundice is mild or severe. For severe cases, the baby needs to warded immediately at the children's hospital for treatment. Delays can cause permanent injury like mental retardation and maybe death.
For mild jaundice, the doctor may advise you to monitor your baby at home. The baby's skin color should improve gradually and the yellowness will disappear. You may sun the baby by exposure to mild or indirect sunlight. Cover his eyes with shades or place him in a direction so that his face isn't towards the sunlight. Newborn babies have very sensitive eyes that need to be protected.
Strong sunlight causes sunburn or dehydration and peeling skin. As a precaution, rub moisturizer over his body prior to sun-tanning. If the jaundice increases instead of receding, then the baby needs to be hospitalized for either treatment of phototherapy or blood exchange transfusion. In phototherapy, the baby is placed under ultraviolet, light which helps to break down the bile pigment in his bloodstream. In blood exchange transfusion,a donor's blood without the bile pigment is exchanged with the baby's "polluted" blood.
For complications like G6PD deficiency, the mother will be advised the full set of medical information on the precautions to be taken for life. There are certain beans that are forbidden together with a list of drugs. Every doctor and dentist treating an individual with G6Pd deficiency needs to be told of his medical condition so that they will avoid prescribing the forbidden medications. With care and precautions, such an individual can lead a normal life.