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Jaundice is a very widespread condition which causes a yellowstaining on the skin and the white of the eye. It happens quite frequentlyto newborns, especially in the first week after their birth. It can be physiological and prolonged. Physiological jaundice lasts up to one week while prolonged jaundice continues even after two weeks time.

Causes of jaundice in newborns

Jaundice occurs due to the excessive increase of the pigmentbilirubin in the blood. The reason for this is the inability of the liver of anewborn to cleanse the blood from the bilirubin in a timely manner. This iseither caused by an enhanced level of red blood cells in the body of a newbornbaby or because the process in which the liver gets rid of the bilirubin ismuch slower in infants than in adults.

General attitude towards jaundice in newborns

As it has been said, jaundice is quite frequent in newborns especially if they are prematurely born. It is also more characteristic for thebabies which are breastfeed than the ones who are not. In the majority of cases jaundice is not something to be alarmed about. It is completely harmless and itdoes not require any treatment whatsoever as it goes away on its own in lessthan two weeks.

Possible consequences of jaundice in newborns

However, one should start worrying about jaundice if morethan two weeks go by and it still does not retreat. Also, if jaundice presentsitself more than a week after the birth it is not a very good sign either.Another symptom of complications is a white stool. Should any of these symptomsoccur individually or combined one has to contact a doctor immediately.

The usual way to deal with overdue jaundice is byphototherapy. Phototherapy is a procedure which uses light in order toaccelerate the elimination of bilirubin from the blood. Some other times ablood transfusion is performed so that the baby’s blood is switched with theblood that is clear of bilirubin.

These are all moderately serious complications, but there isone extremely dangerous complication called kernicterus, in which jaundicespreads to the brain, leading to brain damage and even death. This occurrenceis very rare. Some of the symptoms of kernicterus include weariness,irritability, abnormality in muscle development, trouble with preserving theposture, occasional breathing problems and seizures. Aside from these basicsymptoms some more intense and lasting symptoms may arise as well. These arehearing loss and problems with vision and teeth.

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