Jaundice in babies

by Dr. Lathiesh Kumar

Understanding Jaundice in Babies

Dr. Lathiesh Kumar, the best Pediatrician and Child Specialist in Whitefield , Bangalore, talks about the Jaundice in Newborn babies in this video. He is a Consultant in Pediatrics and Neonatologist at Aster Women and Children Hospital.

Newborn Jaundice

Yellowing of skin and eyes in newborn babies' is known as newborn jaundice. It is prevalent, and it occurs when newborn babies have high levels of bilirubin. Bilirubin is a yellow pigment produced during the breakdown of the red blood cells.

However, mostly newborn jaundice are recovered on its own once the baby's liver matures, and the bilirubin levels are reduced when it is passed through urine and stool. Usually, it takes two weeks for a liver to mature once the baby begins to feed.

Most of the babies will have jaundice post 48 hours of their birth. However, not all cases have pathological jaundice. 99% of it is physiological jaundice.

Jaundice that persists for more than three weeks will be because of other health conditions like Urinary Tract Infection, Hyperthyroidism, etc.

What are the causes of newborn jaundice?

  • Babies born before 37 weeks of gestation (premature babies) are at a higher risk of developing newborn jaundice.
  • Babies whose blood group does not match the mother's blood group can produce antibodies that destroy their red blood cells, causing bilirubin generation. 
  • Babies having liver problems. 
  • Babies having enzyme deficiency.
  • Babies who are born after 37 weeks of gestation may also have newborn jaundice, but the majority of the time, it lasts for 2 weeks.

How is newborn jaundice diagnosed?

Babies who have symptoms of jaundice within the first 24 hours of birth must go for a skin or blood check-up.

There is a need to take some additional tests if babies have underlying health conditions. These tests may include complete blood count (CBC), blood type, and Rh Incompatibility.

What are the treatments of newborn jaundice?

As said, newborn jaundice will resolve independently with frequent feeding and passing of bilirubin through urine and stool.

However, a severe one will require additional treatments like phototherapy. It is a highly effective treatment that uses blue light to increase the metabolism of jaundice, leading to passing it out through stool and urine.

When should you consult a doctor?

In most cases, having newborn jaundice is normal. But, when it is because of an underlying condition, as mentioned before, you must consult a Pediatrics and Neonatologist doctor