Jaundice – Reasons why your baby has a yellowish appearance at birth
Jaundice is the yellowish discoloration of the skin, the white of the eye (sclera) and the mucosa caused by high levels of bilirubin in the blood (hyper bilirubinemia). It is not technically a disease, but rather a visible sign of an underlying condition causing increased levels of bilirubin in the blood.
Neonatal jaundice is the most common condition requiring medical care in newborns. Although it is often a normal and transient physiologic consequence of immature neonatal liver, there are a variety of other medical conditions that can cause severe neonatal jaundice. Here are some facts about neonatal jaundice.
1) Neonatal jaundice symptoms
As a baby’s bilirubin levels increase, jaundice moves from the head to involve the arms, trunk and finally the legs.
If bilirubin levels are very high, a baby will appear yellow under the knees and on the palms of his hands.
One way to verify this is to put a finger against a baby’s skin, temporarily pushing the blood. Normal skin becomes white when you do this.
Newborns begin to appear yellow when they have more than 5 mg / dL of bilirubin in their blood. It is important to recognize and treat neonatal jaundice because high levels of bilirubin can cause permanent damage to a baby’s brain. This brain damage is called kernicterus. Today, because of the increased awareness and effective treatment of neonatal jaundice, kernicterus is extremely rare.
Jaundice itself does not produce clinical symptoms, but the underlying cause may produce the following symptoms:
- Bad appearance
- Bad nutrition
2) When to seek medical attention for neonatal jaundice
- Call your doctor if your newborn baby becomes yellow
- If your doctor is aware of jaundice and you observe your child at home, call your doctor if jaundice spreads to his arms or legs or if it lasts more than a week.
- Call your doctor if you feel uncomfortable watching your child at home or if you have other questions or concerns.
3) When to go to the hospital
If your child appears to be sick (if he or she refuses to eat, looks extremely sleepy or arms and legs are loose) or at a temperature of 38⁰C or higher, you should seek immediate medical attention.
Go to the hospital if your child seems to have trouble breathing.
If your child stops breathing or starts to become blue, administer emergency breathing if you are trained in CPR.