Baby Jaundice

Around 20% of newborn babies suffer from jaundice. The condition is not normally serious and usually clears up after a week or so.
What Are The Symptoms?
Baby's skin will develop a yellowish tinge and she will look as though she has a suntan. Black babies will have a yellow tinge to the whites of their eyes.
What Causes Baby Jaundice
Babies are born with a high level of the chemical bilirubin in the blood and it may take a week or so for the liver to break this down. Baby will suffer no pain or discomfort as a result of having this condition.
How Is It Diagnosed?
The first sign of jaundice is the change in skin tone. A blood sample will then be taken (usually a small sample from baby's heel) and the levels of bilirubin levels are checked.
What Is The Treatment?
Exposure to sunlight will help break down the chemical. If you are still in hospital, baby will be placed under bright fluorescent lights for set periods; a few days of this treatment is usually sufficient and the yellowish tinge will fade. If you're at home, place baby in as much daylight as possible (without clothing) - but be careful not to expose baby to direct sunlight as she could suffer from sunburn. Breastfeeding will also help (but you were going to breastfeed anyway, right?), and feed on demand so that the chemical clears the system more quickly.
What If The Symptoms Persist?
If the symptoms persist after two weeks, a rare occurence, it can be a sign of other complications and you should consult your doctor.

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Author: Tony and Katy Luck who run a site where you can get advice on babies and babycare.

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Child Health and Development Unit  World Health Organization

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