If you notice that your baby has a yellow appearance both in his skin and the whites of his eyes, it might be a sign of jaundice. Jaundice is a common condition in infants that occurs when there is too much bilirubin in the blood. Bilirubin is a yellow substance produced by the body to replace old red blood cells. The liver is responsible for processing and disposing bilirubin through feces. Now, since your baby’s liver is still developing, it can’t eliminate everything that it accumulates in the blood causing the yellow look. Jaundice may appear since the second or third day of life or after the first week. You will notice it first in your baby’s face and eventually the color will spread and appear in his legs.
Why does jaundice occur?
There are several reasons why this may occur. For example:
• High level of red blood cells.
• Lack of important proteins.
• The immaturity of the liver.
• The intestine reabsorbs bilirubin before it’s eliminated.
What are the types of jaundice?
• Physiological: The most common type. It appears between the second and fourth day of birth and it disappears when your baby is one to two weeks old.
• Premature: Usually occurs in premature babies due to the immaturity in their development. It must be treated soon to avoid complications.
• Associated with breastfeeding: It can occur when your baby is not getting enough milk.
• Associated with breast milk: It is rare but some babies develop jaundice due to substances found in breast milk. Usually, they get better after the third or twelfth week.
• Blood type incompatibility: It may occur when your baby has a different blood type than you. By having a different blood type, the mother’s body can create antibodies that destroy her baby’s red blood cells, creating an accumulation of bilirubin at birth.
If you notice that your baby’s skin is turning yellow, he has a high temperature, or that the jaundice he already had is spreading, contact your doctor to determine an accurate diagnosis and necessary treatment.