When newborn babies have too many levels of bilirubin in their blood, it can be detrimental to their health, since this fact causes jaundice, causing the little one to present a yellowish hue on the skin and in the white area of the eyes.
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Thus, bilirubin is a yellowish substance that arises in the body after the natural decomposition of red blood cells. Normally, the liver has the function of breaking down bilirubin from the blood and releasing it through the intestines.
However, sometimes a newborn's liver is not developed enough to break down and subsequently remove bilirubin from the body. Therefore, if this substance accumulates in the blood faster than the body is able to eliminate it, what is known as jaundice can arise.
Symptoms of jaundice
In most cases, jaundice goes away on its own. However, there are some types of jaundice that do not even require treatment to reduce the level of bilirubin in the baby's blood.
Thus, when a baby has jaundice, it presents some characteristic symptoms, such as yellowish skin. Usually, this yellowish tone usually begins on the face, although it can also affect the chest, abdomen and finally the legs. A yellow hue may also appear in the whites of the eyes.
Similarly, babies with high levels of bilirubin in their blood may be tired, sleepy, have low muscle tone, or have trouble feeding properly.
Experts explain that jaundice is a difficult condition to detect in certain circumstances and especially in those babies who have a dark skin tone.
Therefore, you should see a doctor if your baby is not feeding properly, is sleepier than usual, starts to act sick, or has worsening jaundice.
Causes and treatment
In the vast majority of cases, babies have physiological jaundice, that is, normal. This happens this way because newborns have more blood cells than adults.
Therefore, these blood cells do not last as long as those of adults and that is why newborns produce a greater amount of bilirubin when they are broken down.
This type of common jaundice appears between 2 and 4 days after the baby is born, although it disappears when he is about two weeks old.
How to treat high bilirubin levels
To treat a case of jaundice due to high levels of bilirubin in the blood, medical specialists take into account the specific characteristics of each patient and the causes that have caused said condition.
As we have pointed out before, mild jaundice disappears when the baby is approximately two weeks old; since it manages to eliminate excess bilirubin in the blood by itself.
However, a case of severe jaundice can also occur. That is, those in which the baby does not have the ability to eliminate the excess amount of bilirubin on its own.
In these cases, treatment should begin as soon as possible and may be based on fluid intake, phototherapy, exchange transfusion, or intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG).
Phototherapy is a treatment that is based on putting a baby to bed under a lamp dressed in scant clothing so that her skin is exposed to light. This light is capable of transforming the bilirubin into a new form so that the body can expel it more easily.