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Jaundice is the most common of all liver disorders. Jaundice is a yellow color of the skin, the mucous membranes, or the eyes. Jaundice comes from the French word "Jaune" which means yellow. It is also known as icterus. Jaundice typically appears in a 'top to bottom' progression (starting with the face, progressing toward the feet), and resolves in a 'bottom to top' manner.
It is caused by high levels in blood of the chemical bilirubin, a byproduct of old red blood cells. The color of the skin and sclerae vary depending on the level of bilirubin. When the bilirubin level is mildly elevated, they are yellowish. When the bilirubin level is high, they tend to be brown. It is usually processed by the liver and excreted in the baby's stool.
A common condition in newborns, when a baby has jaundice, either too much bilirubin is being produced or the liver does not get rid of it quickly enough. A newborn baby's liver is not fully matured, so jaundice is common during a baby's first few days of life.
There are following kinds of jaundice:
Causes of Jaundice
Jaundice is caused by the accumulation of bilirubin in the blood. Bilirubin is formed when red blood cells are broken down. Jaundice is common since bilirubin production normally two to three times higher in newborns, as compared to adult levels.
Other Causes include:
There are certain risk factors of Jaundice which can cause problems for babies:
Signs & Symptoms of Jaundice
The symptoms of jaundice are extreme weakness, headache, and fever, loss of appetite, severe constipation, nausea, and yellow discoloration of the eyes, tongue, skin, and urine.
The patient may also feel a dull pain in the liver region. Obstructive jaundice may be associated with intense itching.
Call your doctor if your baby shows any of the following symptoms:
Myths about Jaundice
Myth: Breast milk should be stopped because the mother's milk is defective
A general impression that mother's milk is not suiting the child will do more harm than good since it shall disturb the vital breast milk supply to the newborn. Breast Milk Jaundice is a well defined medical entity and can be diagnosed only by the Pediatrician.
Myth: Keeping the child in sunlight can cure jaundice
It is true that Sunlight does help as a source of warmth, for vitamin D production but has no role in reducing Jaundice.
Myth: Keeping the child under a tube light at home is helpful
Phototherapy is specially designed set of tube lights of a specific radiation wavelength kept at a specified distance from the newborn and it is a specialized technique and a short cut of putting the child under a tube light at home is simply deceive oneself. If the baby need for Phototherapy then it has to be done under guidance of a specialized doctor in a Hospital.
Myth: Mothers should avoid foods that contains fat
Again there is no scientific reason, because fats have no relation with fats
Myth: Mothers should not eat / drink / wear yellow things
There is No scientific reason which indicate that the mothers should not drink/eat/wear yellow things.
Diagnosis of Jaundice
Newborn jaundice can be diagnosed by visual examination, transcutaneous (through the skin) measurement, and blood testing.
Physical examination - The initial diagnosis of neonatal jaundice is based on a physical examination, which is done by placing the infant by a window and checking for signs in natural sunlight. At this stage the baby must be in the care of a health professional.
Visual examination - Visual examination is often used by healthcare providers to identify a newborn with jaundice. Visual examination is performed by quickly pressing and releasing the skin. This causes the skin to become pale (called blanching), allowing a clinician to see if the skin is yellowed as blood returns to the area.
The diagnosis is made by recognition of the patient's appearance and accompanying symptoms.
The following diagnostic tests may be performed:
Preventions of Jaundice
Although jaundice cannot be totally prevented but early recognition and treatment are important in preventing bilirubin levels from rising to dangerous levels. If your baby's color is turning more yellow, promptly call your baby's physician.
Treatments of Jaundice
Treatment for Neonatal Jaundice
Most jaundice needs no treatment, but when it does, the given below treatments are possible:
Phototherapy is usually effective, but if a baby develops a severe case of jaundice, or his bilirubin levels continue to rise despite phototherapy treatment, he may need to be admitted to the intensive care unit for a blood transfusion called an "exchange transfusion."
Something else you can do on your own to help reduce jaundice is make sure that your baby is getting plenty of breast milk or formula - so he'll have frequent bowel movements. If you have any concerns about jaundice, check with his doctor to make sure you're taking the right steps to get your baby back in the pink.
If left untreated, Hyperbilirubinemia due to Neonatal Jaundice can result in mental retardation, Cerebral palsy, behavioral problems, hearing loss or even loss of life.
Home treatment for Jaundice
Home treatment for Jaundice includes:
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