When you are a new mum, even the slightest illness can cause you to worry. Because of this, you may seek the advice of fellow mums or elders. But even the opinions of the most experienced parent should not be prioritised over seeking sound medical advice from trained professionals. One mum in China warns against the dangers of jaundice remedies after following inaccurate, though well-meaning advice.
In a Facebook post, which has been shared over 19,000 times in just two weeks, the mum recounts her ordeal.
According to the mum, her baby was taken to the hospital because of complications after being given freshly squeezed grape juice. Some elders recommended giving her baby pearl powder or fresh juice to treat jaundice. But the opposite happened; the baby’s jaundice only got worse.
What’s more, the baby struggled to digest the grape juice, even after days of drinking it. So the baby was confined to the ICU and hooked up to an intravenous drip and stomach tube.
screenshot: 三个包子一个家 – 小肉包专卖店 Facebook page
Once at the hospital, grape juice was found in the baby’s stomach. The doctor asked the mum why this was given because the baby should only be given breastmilk — not even fresh milk.
The mom says she pleaded with the unidentified elder not to give her baby pearl powder, but she wouldn’t listen. She didn’t specify who gave her baby the grape juice or pearl powder.
The mum simply wants to warn others NOT to listen to elders when it comes to jaundice treatment because it’s extremely dangerous.
The good news is that the little one recovered. However, the outcome could have easily been very different as we all know.
What is newborn jaundice?
Babies with jaundice exhibit yellowing of the skin, including the white part of their eye. It is fairly common, affecting more than 50 percent of all newborns. It is caused by large amounts of bilirubin, or the reddish-yellow pigment that results from the normal breakdown of red blood breaks.
But it more commonly appears in premature newborns during the first week of life.
Though jaundice tends to resolve on its own, it still helps to consult with a doctor, especially when it comes to possible dangers of jaundice remedies.
The dangers of jaundice remedies should not be taken for granted. Be sure to consult your doctor before any advice, even from the most experienced parent!
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends exclusive breastfeeding until the age of six months. So naturally, giving your baby juice before they’re ready can pose serious consequences.
For new mums, it can be confusing, especially with the huge amount of information at their fingertips nowadays. But it’s always best to consult a doctor before giving your child ANY remedy at ANY age.
What causes jaundice in babies?
Jaundice occurs when there is a build up of a yellow substance called bilirubin in your baby’s blood. Bilirubin is produced when red blood cells, which are tasked to carry oxygen, are broken down.
Newborn babies often have jaundice because of the high number of red blood cells their blood contains. These cells are frequently broken down and replaced. Additionally, your newborn’s liver is not yet fully developed, rendering it less effective at removing the buildup of bilirubin from the blood.
While most babies pass this stage without any harm, jaundice can be a symptom of an underlying health condition in some cases, although this is not common.
Other causes of jaundice in babies include:
- Internal bleeding or bruising during birth
- Liver problems
- Enzyme deficiencies
- Abnormalities in the red blood cells
Newborn jaundice is more common in babies who are:
- Premature (babies born before 37 weeks)
- Not getting enough formula or breast milk. This can be because they have a hard time feeding or simply because the breast milk is not in yet.
- Babies whose blood type is not compatible with their mother’s blood type. This can cause antibodies to build up and destroy their red blood cells, causing a rise in bilirubin levels.
Symptoms of newborn jaundice
The most noticeable sign of jaundice in your baby would be a yellowing in their eyes and skin. The yellowing usually starts 2 to 4 days after the baby is born and is likely to start in the face, spreading across your baby’s body.
Bilirubin levels in jaundiced babies usually peak 3 to 7 days after birth. You can check for this symptom by pressing lightly on your baby’s skin with a finger.
The area of skin that you press will become yellow if your baby has jaundice. If your baby doesn’t have jaundice, the area you press will just be lighter for a few moments.
How long does newborn jaundice last?
Your baby’s liver will become more effective in processing bilirubin by the time he or she is about 2 weeks old. As such, jaundice will often clear by the 2nd or 3rd week after your baby is born.
Safe and natural ways to reduce jaundice in babies
If your baby suffers from jaundice, there are natural remedies available that don’t involve feeding them unsafe substances.
1. Let your baby get some sun
While phototherapy in a hospital is recommended for some babies, many doctors would often prescribe more time outdoors. But keep in mind that it’s important not to expose your baby to direct sunlight to avoid sunburn.
Just simply hold your baby in your arms while in a sunlit, warm room. Leave their diaper on, but make sure to clothe them shortly after to keep them from getting cold.
How long to put baby in sun for jaundice?
Because you don’t want your baby to get sunburnt, only allow 20 to 30 minutes of indirect sunlight from a window.
2. Make sure your baby is well-fed to promote good digestion
Breastfeeding your baby frequently will result in more bowel movements, which can help eliminate excess bilirubin through your baby’s stool.
On average, breastfed babies should nurse from eight to 12 times a day during the first few days of life.
3. Supplemental feedings can help address feeding issues
If you have difficulty breastfeeding, or if your baby is losing weight, some doctors would recommend formula or expressed milk given through a spoon or syringe to act as breastfeeding supplements. It depends on your doctor’s judgement, really. So make sure to be open about your concerns.
When to see a doctor?
It is likely that your pediatrician will check your baby for jaundice before being discharged from the hospital, as well as during routine medical checkups. However, you should call your doctor immediately if:
- Your baby’s skin seems to be becoming more yellow
- Your baby’s eyes look yellow
- You baby has a fever
- Your baby seems sick, listless or hard to awaken
- Your baby is feeding poorly, not gaining weight / losing weight
You should also seek a second opinion if your instincts are telling you to be extra safe.
If left untreated, jaundice can result in brain damage and even death. So though it is a condition that goes away on its own, it’s best not to take its dangers for granted to make sure your baby’s first year of life is happy and healthy!
Sources: Mayo Clinic, Livestrong, Medical News Today
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