How to Treat Newborn Jaundice at Home

Are you a new parent worried about your newborn’s jaundice? It can be a frightening experience, but with the right knowledge and care, jaundice can be treated safely at home. You can manage this common condition with ease and help your baby get healthy again.

Quick facts: Treating Newborn Jaundice At Home

  • ✅ Phototherapy is the most common treatment for newborn jaundice, however, at-home care is becoming increasingly popular. (American Academy of Pediatrics)
  • ✅ Studies show that the majority of babies treated with phototherapy at home had excellent outcomes. (The Canadian Pediatric Society)
  • ✅ Nearly 60% of infants with severe jaundice can be treated at home with phototherapy. (The Canadian Family Physician)
  • ✅ Home phototherapy can reduce the risk of hospitalization and its associated complications, such as sepsis. (University of Calgary)
  • ✅ Newborn jaundice is the most common medical problem of the newborn period, affecting nearly 60% of all term and 80% of preterm babies. (Mayo Clinic)

Introduction

Newborn jaundice is a yellowing of the baby’s skin and eyes, caused by an increase in a naturally occurring pigment called bilirubin. This usually occurs within the first few days after birth and can range from mild to severe. It is generally harmless, however if it persists or gets worse, immediate medical attention may be necessary.

In cases where it isn’t severe enough to require hospitalization, there are ways to manage and treat newborn jaundice at home. These include:

  • Placing your baby under natural sunlight.
  • Using special blue lights (called phototherapy) which help break down the bilirubin in the body.
  • Feeding your newborn more often can also help reduce levels of bilirubin in their system.

All of these methods can help reduce symptoms of jaundice and keep it from getting worse.

Causes of Jaundice

Jaundice in newborns is usually caused by an increased level of bilirubin in the blood. This can happen due to the baby not being able to get rid of the bilirubin, or if the baby’s liver is not mature enough to process the bilirubin. It is important to understand the causes of jaundice in order to treat it effectively.

Premature Birth

Premature birth is an important cause of jaundice in newborn babies, as it can prolong the period during which bilirubin is building up in the baby’s system. As a result, it may take several weeks for jaundice to resolve, and the baby may require more intensive management.

In the case of premature birth, phototherapy – or light therapy – may be used to break down excess bilirubin in the baby’s bloodstream. This involves exposing the baby to different types of light to help speed up their metabolism and get bilirubin out of their system faster. Additionally, some babies might need regular blood tests and close monitoring if they are at high risk of having serious brain damage due to excessive levels of bilirubin in their bodies.

Infection

Infection is one of the common causes of jaundice in newborns. It occurs when an infant has been exposed to an infectious agent, such as a virus or bacteria, and can result in bilirubin deposition on the skin and mucous membranes of the baby. In some cases, infection can lead to a heightened risk for more serious conditions such as sepsis, cerebral palsy, brain damage, deafness or blindness.

In order to treat jaundice caused by infection at home, it is important for parents to watch for signs of infection such as fever, vomiting or diarrhea. If these signs appear, then parents should immediately contact a physician for further evaluation and treatment.

The physician may recommend

  • antibiotics in cases of bacterial infection
  • antivirals in cases of viral infections.

These medications can help alleviate symptoms and will be closely monitored by your doctor.

Low Birth Weight

Newborn jaundice is a common condition that affects newborn babies, particularly those with low birth weight. Low birth weight occurs when a baby weighs less than 2.5 kilograms at birth and is classified as ‘very low’ if the baby weighs less than 1.5 kilograms when born.

Low birth weight can be caused by several factors including

  • preterm delivery
  • genetic influences
  • nutritional deficiencies
  • infections or illnesses during the pregnancy such as rubella or toxoplasmosis.

Babies who suffer from low birth weight are especially susceptible to developing newborn jaundice because of their underdeveloped liver and limited ability to process bilirubin effectively. This can lead to an accumulation of bilirubin in the blood which causes the symptoms associated with jaundice such as yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes. Therefore it is important for parents to monitor their newborn’s bilirubin levels closely if they have a low birth weight to ensure that any signs of jaundice can be addressed quickly and appropriately.

Symptoms of Jaundice

Newborn jaundice is a common condition that affects around 60% of infants. It is caused by an excess of bilirubin in the bloodstream, which causes a yellowing of the skin and eyes.

Symptoms of jaundice include:

  • Yellowish skin and eyes
  • Dark urine
  • Yellowish stools

Knowing the symptoms of jaundice can help you identify it early and take the necessary steps to treat it.

Yellowing of Skin and Eyes

Newborn jaundice is a yellowing of the skin and eyes that occurs when a baby’s blood has too much bilirubin. Bilirubin is a yellowish substance in the blood created when red blood cells are broken down. When there’s an excess of bilirubin in the baby’s body, it causes the skin and eyes to look yellow.

The most common symptoms of newborn jaundice include:

  • Yellowing of the skin and eyes
  • Lethargy
  • Difficulty feeding
  • Pale stools
  • Dark urine
  • Fever

Although newborn jaundice is often harmless, it’s important to inform your doctor if you notice any of these signs or symptoms so they can determine if treatment for newborn jaundice is necessary. Treatment for mild cases may include phototherapy or dietary modifications but some babies with jaundice may require hospitalization for more intense treatments like intravenous immunoglobulin therapy.

Dark Urine

Dark urine is one of the primary symptoms of newborn jaundice, a yellowing of the skin and eyes caused by a build-up of bilirubin. Bilirubin is an orange-yellow pigment found in bile and stool that results from the breakdown of hemoglobin in red blood cells. When bilirubin builds up in the body, it causes jaundice, which can lead to a number of health complications if not treated properly.

Dark urine occurs due to excess bilirubin being released through the bladder and appearing darkened in color when exposed to light. In addition to dark urine, other symptoms of jaundice include:

  • Yellowish skin discoloration
  • Pale stools

If you suspect your baby has jaundice, seek medical advice for appropriate treatment methods.

Diagnosis

Jaundice in newborns can be a common and manageable condition if identified early and managed correctly. Diagnosis is the first step in determining how to treat newborn jaundice at home.

Symptoms of jaundice can include yellowing of the skin or eyes, dark urine, and light-colored stools. Professional medical advice should always be sought before attempting to treat newborn jaundice at home, as there are certain risks associated with this condition.

Let’s explore how to diagnose newborn jaundice:

Physical Examination

When it comes to diagnosing newborn jaundice, a physical examination by a professional is essential. During the physical exam, your doctor will take your baby’s temperature, listen to their heart and lungs, check reflexes and muscle tone, and assess their overall health. They will also check for signs of jaundice such as yellowing of the skin or eyes.

Depending on their findings, they may request additional testing such as blood work to determine an exact diagnosis. Your doctor may also order a bilirubin test which measures the level of bilirubin in your baby’s blood. Higher levels of bilirubin indicate that there may be an underlying medical condition causing jaundice.

If this is the case, your doctor will recommend proper medical treatment to help resolve the issue so that you can care for your baby at home safely.

Blood Tests

When it comes to diagnosing jaundice in a newborn, it is important to test the baby’s blood to determine the level of bilirubin present. To do this, a sample of the baby’s blood is taken and examined. This test can be done at home or in the hospital. In most cases, the doctor will take a sample of the baby’s heel or finger prick and use a dipstick or special filter paper to collect a tiny amount of blood for testing. If needed, further tests can be conducted in the hospital for more detailed results.

Various levels of bilirubin may indicate different levels of jaundice and require different treatments. Tests that measure bilirubin levels are very important to diagnose jaundice accurately and provide proper treatment for your newborn baby.

Treatment Options

Newborn jaundice can be treated in several ways. Depending on the severity of the condition, your doctor might recommend phototherapy, which uses light to reduce the bilirubin levels in the baby’s body. In some cases, the doctor might suggest oral medications or an exchange transfusion. Here, we will discuss all the available treatment options for newborn jaundice:

  • Phototherapy
  • Oral medications
  • Exchange transfusion

Phototherapy

Phototherapy is a type of light therapy commonly used to treat newborn jaundice. It involves exposing the baby’s skin to a special type of light that helps break down the molecule that causes jaundice.

During phototherapy, the baby is placed under special blue lights in an incubator or diaper mounted light box. The lights emit a concentrated amount of blue light, which is absorbed by the bilirubin molecules in the baby’s skin and converted into an inert form. Phototherapy not only breaks down bilirubin but also helps speed up its natural removal from your body through feces and urine.

Phototherapy treatments typically last between 2 to 6 days depending on your baby’s age and condition. It may be recommended to have your baby wear special glasses or eye patches while undergoing phototherapy to protect their eyes from harm caused by excessive exposure to blue light.

Exchange Transfusion

Exchange transfusion is a form of newborn jaundice treatment used in extreme cases. The process involves a pediatrician or neonatologist carefully exchanging a portion of the infant’s blood with donor blood. This procedure is usually only considered when other treatments have proven ineffective and the infant’s bilirubin levels pose a threat to their health or development.

While exchange transfusions are considered safe, there are certain risks involved including infection, fluid overload and anemia. The risks associated with exchange transfusions should be carefully weighed against the potential benefits before deciding to move forward with this treatment option. Exchange transfusions should always be done in a hospital setting and only supervised by trained medical personnel.

Home Care for Newborn Jaundice

Newborn jaundice is a common condition in newborns and is caused when there is an excess of bilirubin in the blood. While this condition can usually be treated at home, it is important to monitor your newborn’s bilirubin levels and progress to ensure the best possible outcome.

In this article, we will discuss the home care options for newborn jaundice:

Increase Fluids

Increasing fluids is important for helping to reduce Newborn Jaundice. The extra fluids help to flush out the bilirubin, a pigment in red blood cells that is responsible for yellowish skin color in newborns with jaundice. It’s important to ensure that the newborn does not become dehydrated, so a sufficient amount of fluids should be given throughout the day. This includes both breast milk and formula, if applicable.

The amount of fluids necessary should be discussed with the baby’s doctor or pediatrician. Additionally, moms who are breastfeeding their babies should increase the frequency of feedings and nurse as often as possible to help flush out excess bilirubin. It’s also important to note that breastmilk has more liver-supportive nutrients than formula which can be beneficial in treating jaundice at home.

Increase Exposure to Sunlight

Increasing exposure to sunlight is one of the most effective home remedies for newborn jaundice. Sunlight is able to break down the bilirubin in a baby’s blood and help it be processed by the body more effectively.

The exposure should be indirect, meaning that the baby should not be exposed directly to the sun, but rather in a shaded area with some natural sunlight, like outside on a porch or balcony. Depending on how severe your baby’s jaundice is, you may need to expose him/her around an hour of natural light each day. If possible, let your baby get some fresh air and sunshine every day if possible and stay away from artificial lighting.

It is important that your baby has ample protection from the sun’s harmful rays using long-sleeved clothes, hats and sunscreen as needed. Consult with your pediatrician before attempting this form of treatment at home.

Monitor Temperature

Monitoring your newborn’s temperature is an important step in treating jaundice at home. As a general rule, the mother should keep her baby warm, as high temperatures can help to reduce bilirubin levels in the body. However, too much heat can prevent the body from properly processing waste and toxins.

In order to ensure that your baby’s temperature is at a safe and adequate level, it is important to use a thermometer specifically designed for newborns. This should be placed in their axilla (armpit) for 3 minutes until the reading is taken. It is also important to avoid taking their temperature orally or rectally, as this might lead to inaccurate readings due to the environment being too hot or cold.

If your baby’s temperature consistently reads higher than 37°C (98.6°F), then you should seek medical help immediately in order to try and regulate it accordingly.

Monitor Feeding Habits

Newborn jaundice is common, and needs to be monitored. Monitoring feeding habits is an important part of home care for newborn jaundice. To prevent complications, it’s important to ensure that the infant is receiving enough nutrition and is not dehydrated.

Breastfeeding every two to three hours helps the baby get enough nutrition and keeps dehydration from occurring. The fewer times a day that the baby feeds, the longer it takes for them to get an adequate amount of nutrients for proper growth and development, which can increase jaundice levels quickly and significantly.

It’s also important to monitor how much milk the baby drinks in each feeding session. If they aren’t drinking at least 8–12 ounces (or 240–360 ml) over a 2-3 hour period or have difficulty latched on, contact your healthcare provider right away.

Conclusions

Newborn jaundice is a common medical condition that can occur in newborns as a result of increased bilirubin levels. Parents can take steps to reduce the bilirubin levels at home with the lighting, hydration, and breastfeeding techniques mentioned here.

While jaundice is not dangerous, parents should keep an eye on the baby’s bilirubin levels and if those levels continue to increase or stay elevated for more than two weeks, they should contact their doctor for more advice on how to treat it. With prompt treatment, jaundice will not cause any lasting damage to the baby’s health if treated by a qualified doctor or nurse as soon as possible.

FAQs about: Treating Newborn Jaundice At Home

Q1: Is it safe to treat newborn jaundice at home?
A1: No, it is not safe to treat newborn jaundice at home. Newborn jaundice should be monitored and treated by a healthcare professional.

Q2: What are the signs and symptoms of newborn jaundice?
A2: The signs and symptoms of newborn jaundice include yellowing of the skin and eyes, dark urine, and pale stools.

Q3: What can I do to help my baby’s jaundice?
A3: The best way to help your baby’s jaundice is to make sure they are getting enough fluids and are getting enough rest. Breastfeeding frequently will also help.

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