Jaundice (clinically known as neonatal hyperbilirubinemia), is a common medical condition that may develop in newborns within the first two to five days after birth. It occurs due to high levels of bilirubin in the body (a waste product created from the breakdown of blood containing proteins present particularly in red blood cells).
Dr. Manu Sharma, Consultant Neonatology, Paras Bliss Hospital, Panchkula says “Infants can suffer from jaundice immediately after birth, thus making their skin turn yellow. The life spans of newborn red blood cells are usually less as compared to adults, and the liver is also immature to handle an increased bilirubin load. This results in imbalance between bilirubin production and excretion leading to jaundice. In general, full-term babies are less susceptible as compared to premature babies, when it comes to development of jaundice at a very early stage. A reason behind this could be that a newborn baby’s growing liver might not be able to remove enough bilirubin from blood, or the intestine tends to absorb bilirubin more widely. While many parents take jaundice at birth lightly, it must be underlined that this disease can lead to internal bleeding, liver problems, infections, and other complications in future. While there is no sure way to completely prevent jaundice, but knowing the risk factors may help to determine what can be done to stay prepared and protect your little one,”
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that all newborn babies should be examined for jaundice every time their vital statistics are measured (or at least every 8 to 12 hours), before discharge from the hospital after birth, and again a few days after the discharge.