Jaundice Baby

I was checking SELaplana's blog when I came across his post on his new-born son who has neonatal jaundice. The baby had photo therapy because of it. I sympathise with what he and his wife are going through as I know it from experience.

Our first born son Cean had the same condition when he was born. My wife, a nurse with several years experience in a maternity ward, noticed the yellow discoloration in our baby's body. We went back to the maternity hospital where Cean was born. He was admitted and undergone photo therapy for 24 hours.

Cean was stripped down to his nappy during the therapy. He lied down in a special bed for babies that was lighted underneath with what looks like a fluorescent light. His eyes were covered to protect it from damage from the light.

It was crucial that the bilirubin level in his body will be down to normal within 24 hours of photo therapy. Otherwise, it will be a cause for worry. Thankfully, his body responded well to the therapy. He is now an active and healthy 6 year old boy.

According to Wikipedia, neonatal jaundice is usually harmless and is often seen in infants around the second day after birth, lasting until day 8 in normal births, or to around day 14 in premature births. Serum bilirubin (yellow breakdown product of heme catabolism that is responsible for yellow discolouration in jaundice) normally drops to a low level without any intervention required.

The jaundice is presumably a consequence of metabolic and physiological adjustments after birth. In extreme cases, a brain damaging condition known as kernicterus can occur. Neonatal jaundice is a risk factor for hearing loss.

John Paul, our second son, also had neonatal jaundice when he was born but he did not undergo photo therapy. He was born in spring where sunshine is plentiful. In contrast, Cean was a winter baby and that is why he had photo therapy.

I mentioned sunshine because neonatal jaundice can be addressed by exposing the new-born child in the sun for a few minutes during their first week of birth. Children born in the Philippines are quite lucky because sunshine is plentiful most of the year.

Now I know what those scenes of mothers sitting outside their houses getting sunshine together with their new-born babies, were for. The sun's rays breaks down the excess bilirubin in the baby's body during those crucial first week of their life; thus, preventing damage to their health.

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