Earlier this week I visited a local hospital to have some bloodwork done. It seemed like most of the other patients waiting for lab work were way younger than me. In fact, there were several newborns in the waiting room. All of them were there to have followup bilirubin testing.
That brought back memories of bringing my youngest child back to the hospital a few days after we’d been released, because his bilirubin count was high and the doctor wanted to re-check him. So, like the many young moms I saw in the waiting room that day, I bundled up my little guy against the winter wind and brought him back for an extra blood test.
What’s bilirubin? It is a byproduct of the normal breakdown of red blood cells, and is normally excreted through the intestines. Everyone’s body makes it, but many newborns’ systems can’t quite process it quickly enough–before birth, the mother’s liver processes any bilirubin that the baby makes. When too much bilirubin builds up in a newborn’s system, they develop a condition called newborn jaundice.
What’s jaundice? The skin turns yellow, first on the face, then the chest and belly, and finally the legs. The whites of the eyes can also appear yellow.
How can I prevent this from happening to my baby? The best way to prevent it is to have your baby checked by a pediatrician between the ages of 3 and 5 days. As many mothers and babies are now discharged from the hospital before the babies are 72 hours old, many causes of jaundice are first noticed when the baby returns home. Generally, cases of newborn jaundice are mild and many don’t even require treatment other than watchful waiting. Moderate cases of jaundice can be treated with special “bilirubin light” therapy.
It turned out that my little boy was fine and did not require any further treatment for his very mild case of newborn jaundice. I’m hoping for the same for the babies I saw at the hospital lab this week!
Have a great weekend, and I’ll see you Monday with a new Basket of Bargains!