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Old Dec 4, 2007, 05:22 PM
Sharon Sharon is offline
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Neonatal jaundice

Jaundice in the newborn

Up to three quarters of babies develop jaundice in the early days of life. In the majority of cases the jaundice is caused by red blood cells breaking down more quickly than the baby’s liver can process them. This jaundice is usually harmless although babies who are particularly jaundiced should undergo phototherapy treatment to help them clear the jaundice.

Rarely, jaundice in the newborn can indicate a medical problem, including a liver disease. Liver disease in babies requires prompt investigation, and there are a number of signs that can help distinguish it from the more common baby jaundice.

Normal newborn jaundice should resolve after two weeks of life and three weeks in a premature infant. Some breastfed babies can take longer than this to clear their jaundice without it signifying a problem, but it is important that the baby with prolonged jaundice has a blood test to investigate possible medical causes.

There are other important signs that indicate that newborn jaundice may be caused by liver disease. The normal stool colour for a baby is mustard yellow or darker, and the urine should be colourless and clear. Persistently very pale coloured stools and yellow urine are not normal and are a possible indicator of liver disease.

Some of the more common liver diseases affecting newborns are Biliary Atresia, Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency, Alagille Syndrome, and Progressive Familial Intrahepatic Cholestasis.

Sometimes results will show that the baby has liver inflammation but there is no known cause for it. This is called idiopathic neonatal hepatitis. In some cases this will resolve as the infant grows and they will not have any further liver problems.
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