7What Causes Jaundice?
Newborn babies have an excessive amount of red blood cells at birth, almost as many as adults. As baby’s immature liver begins to break down these red blood cells, it produces bilirubin, a yellow pigment that tints the whites of the eyes and the skin.
Parents first notice a yellow
tinge to the whites of the eyes and baby’s skin between two to four days after birth.Bilirubin levels generally peak by day seven, and gradually lowers to normal levels before baby is two weeks old.
This is a normal body process, and is called physiological jaundice. This is the most common type of jaundice in newborns, and there are usually no lasting effects.
Jaundice can be more serious if any of the following are present:
- onset is within 24 hours of baby’s birth
- baby is not eating well
- baby is irritable
- extremely high bilirubin levels
- jaundice lasts for more than two weeks
- pale colored stool
- extremely dark urine
Non Physiological Jaundice
Non physiological jaundice an extremely rare occurrence. The term “non physiological” refers to the fact that this type of jaundice is not part of a normal body process. In fact, it is caused by illness or a health issue.
This type of jaundice makes it’s appearance before baby is twenty four hours old, or after two weeks. Non physiological jaundice can develop into a severe health issue, and medical treatment is generally necessary.
Some causes of non physiological jaundice are:
- severe infection, usually meningitis, a blood infection or urine infection
- abnormalities of the bowel, gallbladder, or liver
- twin to twin transfusion, a condition where twins share a blood supply via one placenta, this can cause one twin to receive too much blood, while the other twin doesn’t receive enough blood
- baby’s blood is incompatible with the mother’s
- babies with toxoplasmosis, rubella, cytomegalovirus, or listeriosis
- babies with a genetic metabolic disorder