Yellow is a sign of excess yellow pigment (bilirubin) in the body. Newborn babies often experience jaundice because their bodies are still not able to process and remove bilirubin completely. As a result, bilirubin will accumulate in the cavities under the skin, citing an explanation from the publication StatPearls.
According to the Indonesian Pediatrician Association (IDAI), as many as 3 out of 5 newborns experience jaundice and will disappear a maximum of 14 days after birth. However, did you know that there are some danger signs in yellow babies? Come on, let’s recognize the signs!
1. Yellow immediately appears all over the body
Refer to Textbooks Neonatology compiled by IDAI in 2008, yellow marks on the baby’s skin first appear from the head area, then spread to the neck, abdomen, and finally the limbs. This process usually occurs in stages.
According to a report in the journal Sari Pediatric In 2018, yellow that has reached the tips of the palms and soles indicates the blood bilirubin level is too high, which is above 18 mg/dL. Bilirubin levels of that magnitude are not normal in newborns, requiring further examination.
2. Yellow has appeared since birth
Most newborns develop jaundice within 24 hours of birth. At birth, the baby’s body has not produced much bilirubin, so jaundice is rarely seen in babies under 24 hours.
Therefore, babies who have been yellow since birth must be wary of. According to the report entitled “Early onset jaundice in the newborn: Understanding the ongoing care of mother and baby” in British Journal of MidwiferyThis condition can be caused by an inherited enzyme disorder or disease, an incompatible blood group reaction. In some cases, severe infections can also cause jaundice in babies.
3. Yellow with seizures
Normally, bilirubin in the body is divided into free (unconjugated) and bound (conjugated) bilirubin.
Free bilirubin will usually be spread in the blood, while bound bilirubin will be excreted through feces or urine. If levels are too high, free bilirubin can penetrate and damage brain tissue.
This condition is known as kernicterus. Quoted from the article mother&beyond.id In 2021, babies with kernicterus will experience jaundice with seizures, weakness, decreased consciousness, and even paralysis. To prevent more serious brain damage, babies with kernicterus should be treated by a doctor immediately.
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4. Baby’s stool or urine is strangely colored
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Most of the bound bilirubin will flow through the bile ducts and excreted in the urine or feces. Bilirubin will make stool yellow-brown and urine yellowish.
Citing information on the official website of RSUP Dr. Sardjito, published in 2021, the color of stool or urine can be a marker of bilirubin abnormalities. In infants with blocked bile ducts (biliary atresia), bilirubin cannot be removed from the gallbladder. As a result, the color of urine becomes dark like tea and the color of stool becomes pale like putty.
5. Yellow with fever
Infections in newborns are quite common. Germs can come from the baby in the womb, during delivery, or after. Some of these infections can cause jaundice in babies.
Usually infected babies cytomegalovirus (CMV), viral hepatitis, or rubella may experience jaundice. Symptoms can also be accompanied by fever, vomiting, lazy to breastfeed, and rapid breathing. Babies with this condition need to get immediate treatment by a doctor.
6. Bilirubin levels increase rapidly
Still sourced from Textbook of Neonatology, an increase in bilirubin levels of 6-8 mg/dL per day can still be considered normal. On the other hand, reported StatPearls, an elevated bilirubin level above 0.5 mg/dL per hour should be considered abnormal.
The baby’s bilirubin level can be measured through a blood test in a laboratory. You don’t need to worry, because this examination is already available at various health facilities. Measurement of bilirubin levels is usually only recommended by doctors to babies who are at high risk for abnormal jaundice.
7. Yellow isn’t going away anytime soon
Newborns have bilirubin levels as much as 5-6 times greater than adults in general. Over time, bilirubin levels will decrease and reach a maximum normal value at the age of 14 days after the baby is born.
Therefore, any baby who has jaundice for more than 8 days (for term babies) or more than 14 days (for premature babies) should also be checked by a doctor.
Those are some danger signs of yellow babies that parents need to know. Already understand, yes, how to distinguish normal and abnormal jaundice in newborns? Hopefully this information can be useful for you and your baby.
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