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Nav Jat Shishu Kamla (Neonatal Jaundice) and its Ayurvedic Treatment

Dr. K.Y. Iyer

Jaundice in newborns is a fairly common condition which is generally not serious. At times it can become serious, therefore it is important to know the signs when jaundice takes a serious turn in a baby.

Peetchakshunakhmukhvinmutr: kamlaardit: I
Ubhyatr nirutsaho nashtag- nirudhirspreh: II
( K.S/25/35)

Jaundice refers to a yellowish cast that can develop in the skin and eyes. The discoloration is also visible on face, urine and stool. It’s a very common condition in newborns, affecting about 80 percent of premature infants and 60 percent of full-term babies during their first week or two of life. (Virtually all newborns have some degree of jaundice, but it’s not always noticeable.) For most babies, the condition is harmless and will go away on its own or with mild treatment. But in rare cases, it can be very serious, requiring close supervision and treatment.

What Causes it?

It is caused due to vitiation of pittaj humor and many a times is also related to br**st-feeding disorders. When old red blood cells break down, one of the byproducts they create is a yellow pigment called bilirubin. Normally, bilirubin is removed from the blood by the liver and then eliminated in the stool. When a newborn’s immature liver isn’t able to process bilirubin fast enough, the pigment builds up in his blood and his skin takes on the yellowish cast of jaundice. This yellow color tends to appear first in his face, and then move downward from head to neck to chest and on down until, in extreme cases, it reaches his toes. This type of jaundice, called physiologic jaundice, usually appears on a baby’s second or third day of life and disappears on its own within two weeks. (For premature babies, it peaks at five to seven days and may take up to two months to recede.) It doesn’t cause your baby any discomfort.

How can I tell if my Newborn has Jaundice?

It can be hard to tell, because the yellowish tinge isn’t always obvious. Your medical team will examine your baby for the condition at birth and then ideally again during his first few days. But if you leave the hospital soon after the birth, you and your new baby may be home by the time jaundice shows up and you may be the first to notice it. Here’s what to look for: Take your baby into a room with plenty of natural or fluorescent light. If your child is fair-skinned, gently press your finger to his forehead, nose, or chest, and look for a yellow tinge to the skin as the pressure is released. If your child has dark skin, check for yellowness in his gums or the whites of his eyes. If you suspect your baby has jaundice, consult your pediatrician. Call immediately if your baby is also listless, feverish, or having difficulty feeding.

Is Jaundice Sometimes Caused by Br**st-Feeding?

"Br**st-feeding jaundice" happens in about 5 to 10 percent of newborns, usually when they’re about 3 to 5 days old. If your baby isn’t taking in enough fluid, he may not be able to eliminate the excess bilirubin through his stools. If this is the case, you’ll need to discuss the feeding problem with your practitioner and you’ll probably want to work with a lactation consultant on br**st-feeding more effectively. Once your baby is getting enough br**st milk (whether through improved br**st-feeding technique, more frequent feedings, or supplementation with formula), the jaundice will most likely go away.

Some babies develop something called "br**st-milk jaundice" during their first few weeks. It’s usually diagnosed at around 7 to 11 days. Although your baby may be nursing well and gaining weight normally, something in the br**st milk interferes with the ability of his liver to process bilirubin. This condition often seems to go along with cases of physiologic jaundice and can last for several weeks to a few months. It’s pretty common in exclusively br**stfed babies and is generally considered harmless. If your baby’s bilirubin levels get too high, your practitioner may recommend that you stop nursing for a day or two to bring them down. (You can use a br**st pump to maintain your milk supply during this time, and once the bilirubin is down, you can resume br**st-feeding.)

What are the Warning Signs of Jaundice in Baby?

Though 90% of the times, jaundice in a newborn is the physiological jaundice, some features may be suggestive of another disease. If the following signs appear, consult your doctor immediately-
  • Jaundice appearing within first 24 hours of life.
  • Jaundice persists even after 14 days of life
  • Baby is not feeding well.
  • Baby’s urine becomes yellow in color
  • The stools of the baby are pale or clay colored (almost whitish)
  • Baby appears lethargic, irritable.
Prolonged jaundice may be seen in premature babies (due to immature liver), some red cell defect, infection, thyroid disorder, liver disorder etc. Hence if the baby is still jaundiced after two weeks after birth, some blood and urine tests are required to determine the cause and early treatment.

Some babies may have prolonged jaundice inspite of being completely well. This is usually seen in br**st fed babies. Br**st-feeding is continued and the jaundice will disappear over time.

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