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My little girl has been diagnosed with jaundice on her 4th day of life, when we went to the polyclinic for review/checkup. The doctor ordered for an immediate admission to the hospital as to the jaundice level was high. It was not high to the dangerous level, but high enough to be admitted. Sighs.

Poor little girl has to stay in the hospital for 48hours. We were hopeful that she would be able to discharge after 24hours of phototheraphy, but the jaundice level was still too high. It was the first time she was away from us for so long. Even though it was a great opportunity to rest, I was feeling very down and missed her alot.

Luckily the feeling only lasted a day and I was glad that she was able to be discharged the next day. After which, we visited the polyclinic quite often. Once every 2-3 days for the past 2 weeks. It was quite a toll on me as I was still recovering (I'm supposed to be doing my confinement, resting at home, avoiding the wind and rain). And my poor little girl has to do blood test every visit. Her little feet has been poked so many times. Sigh. Heartache.

Till now, on her 18 days of life, she still has jaundice. Yesterday's visit to the polyclinic gave us an index of 201. Doc says the index is going down, but very slowly. And the test results showed that it is due to breastmilk jaundice. Sigh... I know it is normal and common, but I could not help but feel that it is my fault, since I'm the one producing her meals.

That short amount of time under the phototheraphy caused my little baby girl to be so tanned. She looks even darker than her Daddy, can you believe it? Oh my. Hopefully she can revert back to her original skin color soon (which is Daddy's skin color).

I just hope she recover soon. I'm tired of going to the polyclinic so frequently.

What is jaundice?

Jaundice is a condition that causes a yellowish discoloration of the skin and the whites of the eyes. If you press your finger against the nose or chest of a fair-skinned baby with jaundice, you can see this yellow tinge. If your baby has dark skin, you can see the yellowness in the whites of the eyes or in the gums. The most common type of jaundice develops on the second or third day of life — about when the baby is being discharged from the hospital — which is why it's important to know about it and keep an eye out for it. Most of these cases, called physiologic jaundice, disappear on their own in two weeks.

What causes jaundice?

A newborn has more red blood cells than her body needs, and often, when a baby's immature liver can't process them quickly enough, a yellow pigment called bilirubin (a byproduct of the red blood cells) builds up in the blood. Much of this bilirubin leaves the body in the baby's stool, but about half of babies develop some degree of jaundice during the first two weeks of life. Preemies and babies with genetic diseases or infections are especially vulnerable. Some breastfeeding babies develop jaundice if they don't get enough breast milk, because the bilirubin isn't able to exit the body through body waste. Breastfeeding jaundice usually shows up in the first two weeks of life. When jaundice is detected within the first 24 hours, it may be due to a blood-group incompatibility with the mother (the mother is Rh-negative and the baby is Rh-positive), infection, or an underlying liver problem.

Should I worry?

Most newborn cases of jaundice are harmless and require no treatment. The doctor may order blood tests to measure your baby's bilirubin levels, which usually involve taking a small amount of blood from your baby's heel. In moderate cases of jaundice, the doctor may prescribe phototherapy (light therapy), which involves placing the baby naked under special blue lights that help her body break down the bilirubin so that it can be excreted. This can be done in the hospital or at home with a portable unit. A special kind of fiber-optic blanket, called a bili blanket, has a similar effect. In addition to phototherapy, it's important to keep your baby well hydrated and to identify and treat any underlying medical issues. Your doctor may recommend breastfeeding more often or supplementing with formula to give your baby more fluids and help her pass more bilirubin in her stools. The goal of treatment is to lower the bilirubin level to prevent the buildup of toxic levels in the baby's brain (a disease called kernicterus). With monitoring and treatment, the risk of kernicterus or other complications drops to almost none.

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