Neonatal Jaundice Management
Neonatal jaundice is a frequent condition in newborns caused by an excessive amount of serum bilirubin due to the red blood cells breakdown. During the first few days of life this normal type of jaundice happens as a response to a baby’s reduced ability to remove bilirubin.
The consequences of high bilirubin levels can be very serious: if not immediately diagnosed, severe jaundice can cause irreversible neurological damages that will last for the whole life of the baby.
This serious disease is called kernicterus and the children who develop it may have cerebral palsy, mental retardation, hearing loss and, in the most serious cases, death.
The Size Of The Problem
Every year, 140 million children are born in the world. 60% of term newborn babies (about 85 million) and 80% of preterm newborns develop, between the third and fifth days of life, neonatal jaundice (mild, moderate or severe). The International Guidelines recommend early detection of jaundice by monitoring the level of bilirubin within the first 2 weeks of life. If severe jaundice is not diagnosed on time and the affected infants are not adequately treated, 10% of them are likely to develop kernicterus.