Jaundice or Icterus is the health condition that turns an infant’s skin and sclera into yellow, due to high billurbin levels in the blood. Billurbin is the substance that the body produces while breaking down old red cells.
Generally speaking, jaundice is not a serious problem. But in some rare cases, too much billurbin in the blood can lead to brain damage or kernicterus which may in turn, cause cognitive disability, hearing loss and other problems.
When jaundice appears in perfectly healthy babies, it will probably develop symptoms between the second and fourth day after birth. But babies will quickly get better and symptoms will go away for good within 2 to 3 weeks maximum, and without any consequence.
As for breastfed babies, they may get jaundice that lasts between 10 to 14 days. Some of them may recover from the illness but then have a return of symptoms after a while. Either case, jaundice won’t be a problem for breastfed babies, as long as they are regularly having enough milk.
As mentioned earlier, jaundice is triggered by an increase of billurbin levels in the blood. This increase is due to baby’s body not capable of getting rid of the billurbin properly, after being handled by his mother’s body through placenta. And what may make things worse and affect even more a baby’s capacity to clean his own blood from billurbin and other toxins, is not giving him the quantity of milk he needs.
In rare cases, elevated levels of billurbin in the blood can either be caused by an infection, a digestive problem or a blood type incompatibility between the newborn and his mother.
Jaundice symptoms include yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes, as well as dullness, fussiness and high-pitched cry.
Treatment of newborn jaundice isn’t often necessary and symptoms can go away on their own after few days, although there is some kind of phototherapy that incites baby’s skin to absorb the light, change the billurbin levels in the blood and stimulate the body to get rid of the excess amounts of urine and stool.
So don’t panic if your baby gets jaundice. His problem is quite ordinary and he will soon recover. The most important thing is that you monitor his symptoms and keep him under medical supervision!
Read More: What Are SIDS Causes And Risk Factors?
Get full access to expert-backed nutrition support
Curated content based on your preferences
Learn about various feeding options and what each means for you and your baby
Tailored Practical Tools
Try our tailored practical tools to guide you through the parenting journey.
My First 1000 Days club
Customised notifications, reminders and newsletters
Still haven't found what you are looking for?
Try our new smart question engine. We'll always have something for you.