2 weeks ago our doctor said that our newborn son was a little bit yellow, so he has physiological jaundice and needed some treatment. He was then 26 days old.
The doctor suggested glucose water mixed with charcoal (carbon tablet) of 200ml per day. My son is refusing to drink, hardly takes 100ml.
When I checked his bilirubin level 1 week ago it was 5.8, I again started to give glucose and after 5 days checked bilirubin – it was 6.3.
I am worried. Why is the level increasing? The local doctor said it is because of not enough glucose.
Can you suggest me what I have to do?
by Aisha (Ashgabat,Turkmenistan)
How To Treat Physiological Jaundice In Newborn
I have a feeling that there is a slight confusion here. What babies in most cases need when they have jaundice is liquid and sunlight. So if you breastfeed, do that as much as you can and keep your baby in daylight as much as possible. Not in direct sunlight, but as much daylight a possible with as little clothes as possible. Put the crib by the window. Take long stroller walks. Nurse in a chair by the window.
The glucose, I believe, is only to make your baby drink more water – or possibly to increase your baby’s energy intake.
Is your baby increasing in weight? Does he wet several diapers every day? Is his urine clear? If so, then you can usually safely nurse him more often instead of offering water to help him get rid of jaundice. A common recommendation for babies with jaundice is to nurse as often as every second hour around the clock until bilirubin levels start to come down to levels that are not dangerous.
The charcoal might help, but it is not a common treatment. Phototherapy is much more common, actually the norm. And home treatment is generally what I just told you; breastfeeding and daylight.
Breast Milk Jaundice
There is one type of jaundice that is called breast milk jaundice because it occurs in healthy, breastfed babies. This type of jaundice usually peaks at around 3 weeks of age, but it can take up to three months to disappear completely. It is not dangerous at all and no treatment is needed unless bilirubin levels become dangerously high.
Science isn’t clear on why some babies get breast milk jaundice. It tends to run in some families. One theory is that there is some substance in the breast milk that prevents certain proteins in the liver from breaking down the bilirubin. This affects some 0.5-2.4% of all newborn babies.
Since in this case, it is substances in the actual breast milk that causes jaundice, more frequent breastfeeding obviously isn’t going to help. Sometimes, if the bilirubin levels climb very high, the mom will be asked to stop breastfeeding for 24 hours (and pump during this day) to see if the bilirubin levels fall.
But really, breast milk has huge health benefits for the baby, so to stop breastfeeding for a while, is usually only recommended as a treatment after all other options have been tried (like daylight and more frequent breastfeeding).
The bilirubin level that your baby has; around 6 isn’t very high. Bilirubin levels lower than 12 are typically not dangerous to the baby.
All this said, I still think you should take your son to see another doctor if possible. Since you are worried, and the treatment your doctor is recommending doesn’t help, a second opinion is always good.
In rare cases, some other illness is the reason why jaundice doesn’t disappear, and this can only be evaluated by a doctor.
Find more information about breastfeeding and jaundice here. (Opens in new window.)
I hope this helps. Please let me know about your son’s progress. He is lucky to have such an engaged mom!
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