In an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on Monday, the Benin-based gynecologist Dr. Iwinosa Ehigiator, has advised pregnant women to have regular check-ups especially when they have a fever, in order to save their newborns from developing jaundice.
Infant jaundice is surprisingly a common condition that affects about 50% of newborns. The condition is characterized by the yellowish coloration of a baby’s skin and the white part of their eyes.
In rare cases, untreated infant jaundice may lead to brain damage and even death, hence the need to prevent it at all costs.
The specialist defined neonatal jaundice “as a yellow discoloration of a newborn baby’s skin and eyes, which occurs because the baby’s blood contains an excess of bilirubin (hyperbilirubinemia), a yellow pigment of red blood cells.”
According to Ehigiator, neonatal jaundice is a common condition, particularly in babies born before the 38th week of gestation (preterm babies) and some breastfed babies.
“The condition usually occurs when a baby’s liver is not mature enough to get rid of bilirubin in the bloodstream. In some babies, an underlying disease may cause neonatal jaundice.
“Most infants born between 35-week gestation and full term need no treatment for jaundice.
“Rarely, an unusually high blood level of bilirubin can place a newborn at risk of brain damage, particularly in the presence of certain risk factors for severe jaundice.
“Your baby should be examined for jaundice between the third and seventh day after birth, when bilirubin levels usually peak,”
According to him, the main sign of infant jaundice usually appears between the second and fourth day after birth.
Ehigiator said the symptoms of jaundice include yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes.
“Bilirubin, which is responsible for the yellow colour of jaundice, is a normal part of the pigment released from the breakdown of “used” red blood cells.
“The best preventive of infant jaundice is adequate feeding. Breast-fed infants should have eight feedings to 12 feedings a day for the first several days of life.
“Formula-fed infants usually should have one to two ounces (about 30 to 60 milliliters) of formula every two to three hours for the first week,’’