Mild jaundice in newborn baby can mostly occur within first 5 days of their birth and it gets better or goes away on its own within a week’s time. There are some reasons which may cause jaundice at birth. Understanding jaundice in babies is very important to be able to manage the condition better. Jaundice usually appears in the newborn as a yellow tint in the skin and in the white portion of the eye within 5 days of his or her life. This actually signs that there is an excess of bilirubin in the blood of the baby, or the baby’s blood has hyperbilirubinemia. Usually most babies suffering from jaundice at birth have mild jaundice that may go away on its own. However, rarely, it may a serious concern, when jaundice at birth can lead to severe damage to the brain or cause a condition known as kernicterus; and can cause serious lifelong issues.

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Your child’s doctor may want to go a follow up examination if your baby is 3-5 days old and shows symptoms of jaundice. Usually jaundice starts reducing or goes away once the baby starts feeding; which aids the bilirubin pass through the body. Though jaundice usually disappears in 1-2 weeks, those which remain longer may be associated with serious underlying conditions. High levels of bilirubin can also cause deafness in the baby along with the serious forms of brain damage.

Hence, it is important to take jaundice in new born seriously and follow necessary treatments on the same before discharging from the hospital. Knowing what causes jaundice in babies at birth and ways to get rid of it can help in every way.

What Causes Jaundice In Babies At Birth?

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What Causes Jaundice In Babies At Birth?

The main cause of jaundice in babies is the presence of high level of bilirubin or a yellow colored pigment during normal breakdown of red blood cells. Bilirubin is removed from the baby via the placenta when the mother is pregnant. After birth, the baby’s body must get rid of this yellow colored pigment (bilirubin) on its own. Mostly, in older babies or in adults, the liver processes this yellow pigment, which then passes it through the intestinal tract; however in some newborn babies the liver may still be developing and may not be mature enough to remove bilirubin. This may cause high level of bilirubin in the blood and may lead to jaundice. However, apart from this, there are several other causes which may lead to jaundice in babies at birth.

Let us talk more precisely about the causes of jaundice in babies at birth.

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  1. In most cases, jaundice in babies at birth occurs as their liver are not yet able to get rid of excess bilirubin very well. It therefore gets accumulated in the blood and causes jaundice. Such types of jaundice usually appear after one day of the birth and may go away in 4-5 days.
  2. In rare cases, the cause of jaundice at birth may be an infection in the baby’s digestive system.
  3. A problem in the mother’s and baby’s blood types or Rh compatibility is also one of the common causes of jaundice in babies at birth.
  4. Liver problems in babies too can cause jaundice in babies at birth.
  5. Internal bleeding or bruising at birth is yet another cause of jaundice in babies at birth.
  6. An abnormality in babies’ red blood cells may also cause jaundice in babies at birth
  7. Deficiency of an enzyme in babies may also cause jaundice in babies at birth.

Which Babies Are At Risk Of Developing Jaundice At Birth?

Along with the causes of jaundice in babies at birth, it is also important to know that some babies are at greater risk of developing jaundice at their birth. These include

  • Those babies who are born before 37 weeks of gestation or premature babies.
  • Babies whose blood type isn’t compatible with blood type of their mother. Such babies can develop a buildup of antibodies that destroy the babies’ RBCs and lead to a sudden rise in the level of bilirubin in the blood. This leads to jaundice.
  • Babies who do not get enough breast milk because of any reason; may also suffer from jaundice at birth.

Symptoms To Check For Jaundice In Babies At Birth:

Before we move on to the ways to get rid of jaundice in babies at birth, you may want to know about the symptoms. Here are the signs and symptoms to check for jaundice in babies at birth:

  • The baby’s skin and white portion of the eye may get more yellow
  • The baby may have a high-pitched cry
  • The baby may not suck well and be sluggish
  • Babies with jaundice at birth may arch their back
  • The baby catches fever over 100 degrees F.

It must be noted that high level of bilirubin in the blood may lead to such symptoms of jaundice in babies at birth. It can be dangerous and requires immediate treatment for the same.

Ways To Get Rid Of Jaundice In Babies At Birth

It is important to know about the ways to get rid of jaundice in babies at birth, which is often through medical treatment or home remedies. But prior to that the condition must be properly evaluated and diagnosed to chalk out an appropriate treatment plan. The diagnosis of jaundice in babies at birth is often made by physical examination followed by some tests, if needed. A distinct yellow coloring of the baby’s skin or the white portion of the eye and other symptoms confirm that the baby has jaundice.

Additionally, some tests that confirm about jaundice in babies at birth include

  • CBC testing or Complete blood count
  • Coombs test that involves testing for Rh or Rhesus factor incompatibility
  • Testing for babies’ blood type.

Treatments For Jaundice In Babies At Birth

Though mild jaundice in babies at birth may go away on its own in few days; more severe jaundice may require certain medical treatments. Below are some of the treatments for jaundice in babies at birth.

  • Phototherapy - Phototherapy is usually the most common and extremely effective method for treating jaundice in babies at birth. This method uses light so as to break down bilirubin in your baby’s body. In this, the baby is placed on a special bed under a blue spectrum light. The baby is put on a diaper or protective covers and a special protective goggle. There may also be a fiber-optic blanket placed underneath your baby in the bed. This is a medical treatment and one of the effective ways to get rid of jaundice in newborn.
  • Exchange Transfusion - One more method of treatment for jaundice in babies at birth is known as exchange transfusion. This method to get rid of jaundice in babies is used only in very severe cases. Here the baby receives small amount of blood from a blood bank or from a donor. This aids in replacing the baby’s damaged blood with healthy RBCs. This exchange transfusion method also increases the RBC count and reduces the bilirubin levels in the baby.

Home Remedies Or Natural Ways To Get Rid Of Jaundice In Babies At Birth

Here we will take a look on some home remedies for jaundice in babies at birth.

  • At-home Lamp Therapy - This home remedy can be tried to treat jaundice in babies at birth at home. This is done when bilirubin level goes on increasing in the baby’s blood. Here, the baby is to be kept under the special sun lamp. It is effective to get rid of mild cases of jaundice.
  • Wrapping Bili-Blanket - One more way to treat jaundice in babies at birth at home is wrapping baby in bili-blanket which aids in reducing bilirubin. This too is one of the common ways to get rid of mild cases of jaundice in babies.
  • Wheat Grass - Juice from wheat grass is one of the best home remedies for jaundice in babies at birth. This juice increases the enzymatic action in the liver and enhances the ability of the liver so as to remove any excess of bilirubin from the baby’s body. Wheat grass juice can be added to the formula which you give to your baby. Around 20 drops can be added to the formula. If the baby takes breast milk, mothers can drink around 2 ounces of juice daily which will pass on to the baby via the breast milk. This is one of the popular ways to get rid of jaundice in babies at birth.
  • Herbal Supplements For Mothers - There are some herbal supplements which mothers can take so as to treat jaundice in babies at birth. These supplements include dandelion tea, comfrey leaf, catnip, agrimony etc. which contain substances that help in detoxification. These detoxifiers aid in removing excess bilirubin from the body of the baby suffering from jaundice. While these herbal supplements are known as ways to get rid of jaundice in babies, some mothers may want to take medical opinion based on their health.
  • Breastfeeding - Frequent feeding of breast milk or milk formula is necessary to keep the baby hydrated which helps in flushing out excess of bilirubin from the baby’s body. Baby should be fed in every 2-3 hours which is one of the most effective ways to get rid of jaundice in babies at birth.

Though breast milk is essential for your baby, however in case your doctor tells you that jaundice in baby at birth has occurred due to breast milk then you must temporarily stop breastfeeding.

Prevention Against Jaundice In Babies At Birth:

Though there are no actual ways to prevent jaundice in babies at birth; there are some ways to prevent it from getting more severe. Below are some of the ways to manage the condition and prevent complications.

  • Keep a note that your baby is being fed with enough of breast milk. Baby requires 8-12 feeds in a day for first few days of birth. This aids the bilirubin to pass through their body in a quick way.
  • In case you are not able to feed your baby properly, ensure that your baby gets 1-2 ounces of formula every 2-3 hours for the first seven days.
  • Monitor your baby’s symptoms carefully for first 5 days of his or her birth. In case you notice any symptom of jaundice does call your doctor immediately.

Conclusion:

In this article we talked about the causes of jaundice in babies at birth and also about certain ways to get rid of it. Hope this would have helped you to some extent. Try to feed your baby with breast milk at your best and prevent dehydration. Make sure you are noticing any symptom of jaundice in your newborn baby so as to seek immediate medical help, if needed.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: December 24, 2018

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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