Infant jaundice is the yellowing of a newborn’s baby skin and eyes. This condition is due to an excess of bilirubin, a yellow pigment in the blood. It’s usually common in babies born before 38 weeks gestation and some breast-fed babies. There are times when an underlying disease causes infant jaundice.
Signs of infant jaundice usually appears between the second and fourth day after birth. Parents should press gently on your baby’s forehead or nose. If the skin looks yellow where you pressed, it’s likely your baby has mild jaundice. For most babies, this is a temporary and will go away on its own. However, there are some symptoms than may indicate worsening jaundice.
Take your baby to the doctor if these symptoms are present:
- Your baby’s skin becomes more yellow
- Your baby’s skin looks yellow on the abdomen, arms or legs
- The whites of your baby’s eyes look yellow
- Your baby seems listless or sick or is difficult to awaken
- Your baby isn’t gaining weight or is feeding poorly
- Your baby makes high-pitched cries
- Your baby develops any other signs or symptoms that concern you
- Jaundice lasts more than three weeks
Do note that bilirubin is toxic to brain cells. If it enters the brain, there will be a risk of damage. Parents should therefore seek treatment promptly for their baby.
Here are some steps to help your baby with infant jaundice:
- Look closely at your baby’s skin twice a day to ensure that the colour is returning to normal. If your baby has dark skin, look at the white part of the eyes.
- Take your baby for any follow-up testing your doctor recommends.
- Call the doctor if the yellow colour gets brighter after your baby is 3 days old.
- Ensuring your baby has enough to eat. This helps to rid the baby’s body of excess bilirubin.
Don’t be alarmed if you notice your baby shows signs of infant jaundice. A calm approach and careful monitoring is what’s needed. The good news is that in most cases, a newborn’s jaundice dissipates on its own as their liver develops after feeding.
Where to Seek Treatment
Singapore General Hospital Dept of Neonatal & Developmental Medicine
Outram Road, Singapore 169608
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Call : +65 6321 4377