Bilirubin Newborn Jaundice

Bilirubin and Jaundice Symptoms in a New Born Baby

Any newborn baby can develop jaundice. It presents as yellow discoloration of the skin, mucous membranes and whites of the eyes, caused by above-normal levels of bilirubin in the blood. Physiologic jaundice in newborns is common. It can be present at birth or develop two to three days after birth. Bilirubin is formed when the body recycles old or damaged red blood cells.

When the infant's liver is not mature enough to metabolize the bilirubin, bilirubin builds up in the blood, and jaundice occurs. This condition causes no symptoms or discomfort for your baby, and it usually disappears on its own in 1 to 2 weeks. However, jaundice should be monitored by your pediatrician because excessively high levels of bilirubin can lead to serious, irreversible complications.

Moderate to severe jaundice can develop because of blood type differences between mother and infant.


Jaundice Treatment for a Newborn Baby

In mild jaundice, your baby may be placed under a special ultraviolet light or wrapped in a fiber-optic blanket for phototherapy. This light allows the bilirubin to be broken down to a form that can be excreted by the infant's kidneys. Increasing feeding frequency will cause more bowel movements and more bilirubin to be excreted in the stool.

Severe jaundice may require intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg), an intravenous transfusion of antibodies, or very rarely, an exchange transfusion, repeatedly withdrawing out small amounts of the infant's blood, "diluting out" the bilirubin and maternal antibodies, and transfusing the blood back to the infant. Your baby will probably be in a neonatal intensive care unit for this procedure.

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