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What is Jaundice and how do you know if your baby has it?

By Rachel Curran – Midwife and Founder of BitBaby

Jaundice is a common and usually harmless condition in newborn babies. When your baby is in the womb, they have excess amounts of red blood cells to help carry oxygen around their body because they don’t breath for themselves in the womb. When your baby is born, they will breath for themselves so will no longer need the excess red blood cells. The excess red blood cells are broken down via your baby’s liver. They break down into a substance called Bilirubin. But as your baby’s liver is still immature, it is not always able to excrete the bilirubin from the blood. Circulating bilirubin in your baby’s blood stream causes yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes.

Other symptoms include…

● yellowing of the palms of the hands or soles of the feet

● dark, yellow urine (a newborn baby’s urine should be colourless)

● pale-coloured poo (it should be yellow or orange)

The symptoms of Jaundice usually develop 2 to 3 days after birth and tend to get better without treatment by the time your baby is two weeks old.

In some cases, light therapy may be used to help your babies liver to break down the bilirubin in the blood.

If you ever have any concerns regarding your baby’s wellbeing, always seek advice from a health professional, Midwife, GP or Health Visitor.