New-born jaundice is common and a usually harmless condition that causes yellowing of the newborn skin and the eyes, medically known as neonatal jaundice. It is a condition wherein the newborn’s blood has a high level of the bile pigment ‘bilirubin’ (yellow pigmentation of red blood cells) in the liver.

The bilirubin level is usually higher for new-borns and is easily treatable. The symptoms of jaundice are usually visible after the baby is 2 to 4 days old and does not take more than 2 weeks to disappear.

However, in cases of severity the following co-morbid conditions may arise:

  • Sickle cell anaemia
  • Blood type mismatch
  • High levels of RBCs
  • Low levels of enzymes
  • Minor bleeding on the scalp or medically cephalohematoma

Risk Factors

  • Comorbid conditions amongst the mothers like hypothyroidism, rhesus factor disease, urinary tract infections, and a problem of the bile ducts and gallbladder.
  • Genetic inheritance
  • Premature babies
  • Breastfeeding; babies those who have difficulty latching or getting enough nutrition from breastfeeding, are at higher risk of jaundice.

Symptoms

  • Yellowness of the skin and eyes
  • Yellowness of the mouth, palms and feet
  • Feeding issues and too much sleeping

Diagnosis And Treatment

Diagnosis involves visual examination for concluding neonatal jaundice based on vital signs such as colouring of the skin, eyes, urine and stool of the neonates.

Treatment of newborn jaundice encompasses three major classes of treatment methods in lowering bilirubin levels; light therapy or phototherapy, intravenous administration of immunoglobulins and blood transfusion.