Dangers of Jaundice in Babies

Jaundice is a medical condition with characteristics such as yellowing of the skin, mucous membranes, and yellowing of the whites eyes. Jaundice occurs when there is an accumulation of bilirubin and yellow pigment is produced when the body breaks down red blood cells. 


Neonatal jaundice or neonatal jaundice (yellow fever) is a common condition in newborn babies. It occurs due to the accumulation of bilirubin, a yellow pigment formed from the breakdown of red blood cells, in the baby's bloodstream. 


Bilirubin is normally processed by the liver and then excreted from the body (feces). However, in the case of jaundice, there may be a problem with the liver's ability to process bilirubin or an excessive breakdown of red blood cells, resulting in an accumulation of bilirubin in the bloodstream. This excess bilirubin will then be stored in body tissues, causing a yellow discoloration of the skin.


There are several causes of neonatal jaundice: 


  1. Physiological jaundice: This is the most common type of neonatal jaundice occurring in more than half of all newborns. It usually appears a few days after birth and is caused by an immature baby's liver that needs time to process and eliminate bilirubin efficiently.


  1. Breast milk jaundice: Some breastfed babies may experience prolonged jaundice due to certain substances in breast milk that can slow down the breakdown of bilirubin in the baby's liver. 


  1. Infection or other medical condition: In some cases, neonatal jaundice may be a sign of an underlying infection or other medical condition, and this condition is extremely rare.


  1. Incompatible blood types: If the baby's blood type is incompatible with the mother's blood, the baby may develop hemolytic jaundice, which results from the breakdown of the baby's red blood cells.


Let's look at the symptoms or characteristics of neonatal jaundice in babies: 

  • The baby's skin and eyes turn yellow. Yellowing usually starts on the face and then progresses down to the chest, abdomen, and legs. 

  • Eating less or lethargy 

  • Yellowing of the palms and soles 

  • Light colored stools 

  • Dark urine


Jaundice in babies needs to be monitored, because severe jaundice can result in: 


  • Brain damage: High levels of bilirubin will cause permanent damage to the baby's brain. And will cause developmental problems, intelligence problems, motor disorders and hearing disorders.

  • Hearing impairment 

  • Neurological disorders : Examples of neurological disorders are seizures, coma, or difficulty in feeding and sucking.

  • Eye damage : Severe jaundice will cause retinal damage and impair the baby's vision.


To reduce the risk of jaundice in babies, it is important to: 

  • Monitor and measure the baby's bilirubin level on a regular basis, especially for babies who have high risk factors for jaundice. 

  • Breastfeed exclusively in sufficient quantities, as it can help remove bilirubin from the baby's body.

  • Get treatment and examination immediately. 

  • Monitor baby's development closely.


In most cases, neonatal jaundice will go away on its own without treatment. However, in severe cases of jaundice or if bilirubin levels become too high, treatment may be necessary to prevent complications. Among the treatment options for neonatal jaundice is using phototherapy (exposing the baby's skin to special blue light). Phototherapy is now not only available in hospitals, but there are places that offer phototherapy rentals at home.



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