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Types Of Jaundice In New Born Baby

Breastfeeding Jaundice

What is breastfeeding jaundice?

Breastfeeding jaundice is caused when there is excess of bilirubin (a substance in the blood in very small amounts). During the new born period, bilirubin builds up faster than it can be. Jaundice appears as a yellowing of the eyes and skin.

There are 3 types of jaundice:

Physiological jaundice

Physiological jaundice occurs on the 2nd and 4th day after the birth and lasts for about a week and is usually harmless and the eyes return to its normal color by 7th day and the bilirubin levels normally does not exceed 10 mg/100 ml.

Abnormal jaundice (is also called haemolytic jaundice)

An early pregnancy blood test identifies women with blood group incompatibility and they are given an Anti-D immunoglobulin injection to prevent the abnormal jaundice in the child. When this injection is not given, it results in blood group incompatibility; which requires immediate action to prevent brain damage in the child, which may require complete transfusion of blood. 

This is absolutely safe to breastfeed your baby even if your blood group is Rh-negative and your baby blood group is Rh- positive, as the antibodies present in the breast milk get inactivated by digestion in the baby’s gut and it is also absolutely safe to breastfeed your baby after having an infection of Anti-D immunoglobulin. 

Breast milk jaundice

Breast milk jaundice is caused by substances in the mother’s milk which prevents bilirubin from being excreted from her body and this can be as deep as 20 mg/100 ml of serum. This breast milk jaundice is a very rare kind that appears in about one week after birth and could continue for 2 months, which is not harmful and does not damage the brain as this occurs after the first week of birth and the blood brain barrier is well developed by then.  The bilirubin levels can be monitored with blood tests.

This kind of breast milk jaundice is better treated by breastfeeding the baby more often and longer periods of time. This resolves itself spontaneously in time and no need to stop breastfeeding the baby.  Some babies need phototherapy (treatment with special light with the babies eyes covered with cloth), which helps to break down the pigment levels in the skin. 

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