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July 28th is observed as World Hepatitis Day every year. The theme for 2017 is "Eliminate Hepatitis".
Neonatal 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). But there's more about jaundice at birth that you need to know. Dr Manu Sharma, Consultant Neonatology, Paras Bliss Hospital, Panchkula shares five interesting facts about neonatal jaundice.
1. When the baby is growing in the mother's womb, the placenta removes bilirubin from the body, as a result of which in most newborns bilirubin levels tends to be on the higher front, immediately after birth. Estimates suggest that around 60% of full-term newborns get affected by jaundice, starting from the second or third day of their birth. If not treated for a long time, infant jaundice can lead to potentially serious complications and even severe brain damage later on. Here's more on neonatal jaundice: What s normal and what s not.
2. 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 an imbalance between bilirubin production and excretion leading to jaundice.
3. In general, full-term babies are less susceptible as compared to preterm babies, when it comes to the 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.
4. 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.
5. 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. Read about expert tips to deal with neonatal jaundice.
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