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    Making a difference in the lives of children, youth and families

    Form # P 5402E June 2012

    Jaundice in newborn babies

    What is jaundice?Jaundice is a yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes. It happens often in newborn babies, and it: Usually happens by the 2nd or 3rd day of life, and goes away by the second week Can last longer in healthy babies who are breast-fed What causes jaundice?Bilirubin is a pigment (colour) that is released when red blood cells break down (this is normal). Our livers usuallyremove bilirubin from the blood. In newborn babies: Red blood cells dont live as long and break down faster than in adults It can take a few days for the liver to start working properly This causes bilirubin to build up in the blood. Too much bilirubin makes the skin and the whites of the eyes turn yellow.Sometimes jaundice can be a sign of a more serious problem like an infection.

    How do I know if my baby has jaundice?If babies have jaundice: Their skin or the whites of their eyes are yellow A blood test shows a higher level of bilirubin in the blood

    Jaundiced babies may also: Fall asleep often during feeds Not feed well Cry more often or be more irritable than usual

    Is jaundice harmful?Newborn jaundice is not harmful for most babies and goes away as soon as the babys liver starts working properly. Itcan sometimes be harmful when the bilirubin level is high. This is why it needs to be checked and treated right away ina hospital.

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    When to Contact Your Health Care Provider:Constipation that goes on for a long time may lead to other problems or signal an underlying condition. Contact yourHealth Care Provider if your child or teen: Has severe pain or pain lasting more than 30 minutes Gets a fever Has vomiting Passes blood or mucous with soft stools Has abdominal swelling Loses weight Wakes up from sleep to pass stool Keeps crying and you cant do anything that soothes your child Develops painful cracks in the skin around the anus (anal fissures) Has intestine drooping out of the anus (rectal prolapse) Is still constipated (stool type 1, 2 or 3 on the stool chart) after following the treatment plan (above) for 2 weeks

    Taking care of your baby at homeBabies with mild jaundice can be cared for at home. After a doctor has checked your babys jaundice, you should: Feed your baby more often. This helps to get rid of the bilirubin faster through the urine (pee) and stool (poo). Bring your baby for a repeat bilirubin blood test if your doctor asks you to. This helps doctors to see if the jaundice is getting better.

    My babys weight: _______ Date: _____________

    Bilirubin level: __________ Date: _____________

    Hospital treatments for jaundice

    Babies with higher bilirubin levels will need to be treated in hospital.o Phototherapy: Your baby will be placed naked under special lights that break down bilirubin. This helps to get rid of more bilirubin through the urine. Your baby will have her eyes covered. You can feed your baby as usual.

    o IV (intravenous): This may be needed to make sure that your baby gets the right amount of fluid.

    o Tests: Your baby may need more tests to make sure there are no other reasons for the jaundice.

    o Antibiotics: Your baby may have antibiotics if the doctor thinks that your baby has an infection. Your doctor will talk with you about this first.

    Come to the Emergency Departmentif your baby: Is feeding less than every 4 hours Goes more than 6 hours without a wet diaper Is very sleepy or hard to wake up Is irritable or cries more than usual Doesnt stop crying even when youve done everything you can to help Has a fever Looks more jaundiced to you

    Numbers to knowTelehealth Ontario: 1-866-797-0000 Health Information from Registered Nurses,24 hours a day, 7 days a week TTY: 1-866-797-0007 Ottawa Public Health: 613-580-6744 Toll free: 1-866-426-8885

    Qubec Info sant: 811

    Other instructions: