Your little baby is so cute. Really, no matter what he looks like, no matter how wrinkly or splotchy he may be, your newborn looks just perfect to you. There is a particularly popular disruption in his physical look that may throw you off. Sometimes, even the cutest babies come out yellow. If your child has a yellowish hue, he may have jaundice, an easily treated condition.
What Is It
Jaundice is a condition that makes a baby’s, or other person’s, skin look yellowish. The yellowing results from an abundance of bilirubin, a product of the liver. When a great deal of bilirubin builds up in the blood, the color of the skin is affected. This can happen if an infant’s liver is underdeveloped, if he drinks too little or too much breast milk, or if his red blood cells are not fully developed.
What Does It Look Like
Your doctor or nurse will look for and recognize symptoms of jaundice when your child is born and when you return for follow-up visits. Even if your child does not have jaundice when you leave the hospital, he may develop it at home. If you think your child’s skin is turning yellowish, you can press lightly onto his skin. The yellow color should disappear under your finger momentarily and return when you remove your finger.
How Often It Occurs
According to the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital at the University of Michigan, more than half the babies are born with jaundice, as their livers finish developing. As many as 15 percent of the babies can develop jaundice from breastfeeding.
What Can Happen
Generally, jaundice is not something you should worry about, as it is treated and relieved quickly. However, if it is not treated or allowed to continue, the build-up of bilirubin can be damaging to a child. The excessive bilirubin can move into the brain and cause problems. For this reason, if you notice yellowing, even after you leave the hospital, you should contact your local health care professional to see if intervention is necessary.
How to Fix It
Jaundice is treatable. Most often in the hospital, jaundice will be treated with lights. Phototherapy may consist of a bed or box with a light in it, soaking the baby in light, or a blanket that releases light waves. The light breaks down the bilirubin into a product the body can process. This may cause diarrhea or yellow and green bowel movements for a few days while the body eliminates bilirubin.