Neonatal Jaundice Classification

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Signs and Symptoms

Neonatal jaundice classification exists to classify infants who exhibit the signs of jaundice. Though blood tests are taken to confirm the existence of jaundice, it is often apparent to the naked eye. Blood tests are taken to determine the level of bilirubin levels in the blood. If the levels are too high, then the infant is producing more bilirubin than they are expelling. Infants who have jaundice tend to have a yellowish appearance to their skin and eyes. These signs tend to show themselves within 24 to 48 hours of birth.

Cause and Prevention

Currently, the information available about jaundice tells us only how it is diagnosed as medical professionals are unaware of the exact cause of it. It is well known that infants in general tend to have around three times as much bilirubin in their system as adults do. The reasons for this may vary, though some causes are obvious.

When the immune system is compromised, there will be a noticeable increase in the levels of bilirubin as the blood loses its ability to break down this chemical as it normally would. Some ways that the immune system of an infant may be compromised would include being born before the immune system is fully developed or being born to a mother with an opposite blood type whose system has launched an attack on the infant’s.

Treatment

The first treatment for neonatal jaundice classification is called phototherapy. There are even cases where no treatment is needed at all and the infant’s system naturally breaks down the bilirubin in the system. However, in cases that require phototherapy, the light assists in the breakdown of this chemical. Sunlight used to be the common light used, but is now discouraged due to the possibility of sunburns. Some of the side effects of phototherapy include dehydration and bronze baby syndrome, which has no effect on the baby other than changing the skin color.

If phototherapy is ineffective as may be the case with infants whose immune system has been compromised, then immunoglobulin may be given to the infant as a way to boost the immune system.

Infants who have a severe case of jaundice may be at risk for having it affect their brain in either a temporary or permanent manner. To prevent this, a therapy called exchange transfusion may be used. This therapy is done by exchanging some of the infant’s blood for another blood that has the proper levels of bilirubin. Obviously, this greatly reduces the amount of bilirubin in the system and may provide the immune system with the boost it needs to expel the rest of the chemical.

References: Up to Date for Patients.com