Have you had a baby recently and noticed your new baby’s eyes and skin turning yellow? It’s likely he/she has Jaundice. To simply put, Jaundice can be referred to as a yellow discoloration of the skin due to the excess presence of bilirubin, a yellow pigment of red blood cells, in a the blood.

Infant Jaundice is a common condition that affect nearly 60% of babies especially babies born before 38 weeks. Although it may seem frightening, it’s a common problem in newborns and is harmless. It sometimes may require medical intervention but usually goes away on its own.

What Causes Jaundice?

The most common factor known to cause jaundice is excess bilirubin – the normal part of the pigment released from the breakdown of abnormal red blood cells. This is what causes the yellow color Jaundice presents. At very high levels, bilirubin can also cause brain damage, but this is rare.

Typically, newborns develop more bilirubin as compared to adults owing to their bodies being unable to breakdown red blood cells fast, within the first few days of life. Other possible causes and risk factors that predisposes newborns to Jaundice include:

  1. When a child is born pre-maturely
  2. A child with an immature liver.

Certain disease and conditions are also known to cause Jaundice. Some include:

  1. Bleeding somewhere inside your baby’s body
  2. Sepsis
  3. Bacterial or viral infections
  4. Lack of certain enzymes

Symptoms of Jaundice

Typically, the most commonly known feature of Jaundice is the yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes which appears between the second and fourth day after birth. Usually, its starts on the face and gradually spreads to the chest, stomach, hands and legs once the bilirubin level in the blood increases.

An easy way to check if your baby has jaundice is to press his or her forehead or nose gently. If the part of your baby’s skin where you pressed turns yellow, it’s likely your baby has jaundice. Ideally your baby’s skin color should only look slightly lighter than normal when pressed for a short while before turning back to its normal color.

How to Prevent Jaundice

Although a lot cannot really be done with regards to preventing jaundice in newborns, feeding is widely known to be the best and most acceptable preventive for Jaundice. Breast-fed infants should have eight to 12 feedings a day for the first several days of life.