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A baby has jaundice when your skin and the whites of your eyes look yellow. Normally, newborn jaundice is caused by breast milk, but there are other causes as well. The growth of the baby is satisfactory and healthy, but sometimes some proteins in breast milk are blocked in the liver, which end up disrupting the bilirubin, causing it to reach high levels in the baby's blood.
This type of newborn jaundice tends to run in families. It often occurs equally in boys and girls, affecting approximately 0.5 to 2.4 percent of all newborns. It usually appears after the first week and lasts for at least 6 weeks.
The causes of jaundice in the newborn are different from those that appear in later ages. In the newborn, jaundice almost always has a benign meaning and is due to the fact that the liver is still immature and therefore unable to remove bilirubin effectively. Other causes would be jaundice from bruising on the scalp or at other levels as a result of childbirth, or when babies are born with many red blood cells in their blood. They are the ones born with very reddened skin.
When a mother is breastfeeding her baby and notices that her baby's skin and eyes are yellow (jaundice), she should see a doctor immediately. Jaundice is not a serious condition, but it does require studying the causes to avoid further problems.
To assess the baby's clinical picture, treatment will depend on data such as the baby's bilirubin level, the time when jaundice occurs, whether the baby is premature, his age, and his blood type. If the bilirubin level is greater than 20 mg / dL, there are different treatment alternatives. The mother can interrupt breastfeeding for 24 to 48 hours, which will cause a rapid decrease in the bilirubin level. During this time, the mother can express milk or suck it from the breasts with a pump to maintain her well-being and maintain the flow of milk while the baby is fed formula.
The baby may also have to stay in the hospital for treatment if the bilirubin level is very high. Along with phototherapy, fluids given through a vein can help increase the baby's fluid level and help lower bilirubin levels.
The early and very striking cases are usually due to the mother having a different blood group than the baby. In this case, the mother produces antibodies (defenses) directed against the baby's red blood cells. These defenses destroy your red blood cells and determine the release of bilirubin. These diseases are Rh isoimmunization (can be severe due to severe anemia) and ABO incompatibility (usually benign).
Some liver diseases (more or less serious) are capable of producing early jaundice (first 24 hours) or prolonged (more than 2 weeks). Serious newborn infections and dehydration can also be causes of jaundice. Normally, there are no complications when proper treatment is performed. However, not receiving treatment on time can lead to serious consequences, since high levels of bilirubin can be harmful to both the brain and other organs of the baby.
When jaundice is from breast milk it cannot be prevented. In this case, what is done is to limit the jaundice, ensuring that the baby receives enough breast milk, with the help of a lactation specialist, and check his bilirubin levels immediately to make sure that there are no other liver problems or of red blood cells (hemolytic anemia).
- MedLine Plus. National Library of Medicine, USA.
- AEP Spanish Association of Pediatrics
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