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July 28th is observed as World Hepatitis Day every year. The theme for 2017 is "Eliminate Hepatitis".
Neonatal jaundice is a condition that affects infants right at the time of birth. New parents are always worried about this. However, just like jaundice in adults, following few precautionary steps during pregnancy, can help in lowering the risk of neonatal jaundice. Here are four tips to deal with jaundice at birth by Dr Manu Sharma, Consultant Neonatology, Paras Bliss Hospital, Panchkula.
1. Identifying risk factors: Certain blood incompatibilities can cause more blood to break down, producing more bilirubin, putting the infant at risk for neonatal jaundice. Mothers with Rh negative and O+ blood group and those suffering from genetic enzyme deficiencies such as glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency have an increased risk.
2. Reducing the risk of a pre-term birth: Babies born before 37 weeks are at an increased risk of developing jaundice. The liver of a preterm baby is less developed than that of a full-term baby, making it even more difficult to eliminate bilirubin. Some pre-term risk factors, such as age or multiple births cannot be remedied. However, environmental risks like the use of chemical contaminants namely tobacco, alcohol, street drugs, and some medications can increase your chances of preterm birth, hence should be avoided. Stress is also a major risk for preterm birth so it is wise to stay away from stressful situations. Early and consistent prenatal care can ensure that the baby stays as healthy as possible during the pregnancy.
3. Begin breastfeeding early It has been observed that mothers who begin breastfeeding within the first few hours after a birth are more likely to succeed than those who wait. Moreover, the colostrum a mother produces early prompts the baby s digestive system to eliminate waste, which helps to expel excess bilirubin from the intestines and help the infant to recover from neonatal jaundice.
4. Feeding the baby frequently - A steady supply of milk helps in increasing the newborn s weight and development, including the development of the liver. This is true for both breastfed and formula fed babies. Ideally, newborns should be fed every 2 hours or at least 8 to 12 times a day. Here's more on neonatal jaundice: What s normal and what s not.
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