Infant jaundice is surprisingly a common condition that affects about 50% of newborns. The condition is characterised by yellowish coloration of a baby’s skin, and the white part of their eyes.
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In an otherwise healthy baby born at full-term, infant jaundice is rarely a cause for alarm; it tends to go away on its own. However, if treatment is necessary, infants tend to respond to non-invasive therapy. In rare cases, untreated infant jaundice may lead to brain damage and even death.
The condition is more common among premature babies, and will require more detailed medical attention.
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‘Physiological jaundice’ is caused by a build-up of a chemical called bilirubin in the baby’s blood and tissues. Bilirubin is normally processed by the liver, but a newborn’s liver takes a few days to process it, so about six out of 10 newborns have jaundice to varying degrees.
However, a premature or sick baby or a baby with very high levels of bilirubin will need close monitoring and medical treatments.
Some cases of severe infant jaundice are linked to an underlying disorder; these include:
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The most obvious sign of infant jaundice is yellow skin and sclerae (the whites of the eyes). More symptoms of infant jaundice may include:
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Severe jaundice symptoms in infants include:
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Typically, treatment for mild jaundice in infants is unnecessary, as it tends to disappear on its own within 2 weeks.
Some treatment options for severe jaundice include:
If jaundice is caused by something else, surgery or drug treatment may be required.
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The best way to reduce chances of an infant developing jaundice is to make sure they are well fed.
For the first week or so of life, breast-fed babies should be fed 8-12 times a day, while formula-fed babies should be fed 1-2 ounces of formula every 2-3 hours.
Tags: Causes, Infant, Jaundice, newborn, prevention, symptoms, treatment
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