By Lauren Feder, M.D.
Jaundice is not uncommon in newborns and is caused by an accumulation of bilirubin, a substance excreted by the liver. It is normal for newborns to be slightly yellow, but excessive levels of bilirubin can cause medical alarm. If your baby is sleepy, lacks interest in nursing, or is dehydrated, see your practitioner. Excessively high levels of bilirubin can lead to deafness, cerebral palsy, or brain damage.
Care and Treatment
Babies who experience a difficult birth are at higher risk for jaundice, and in these cases, the homeopathic remedy, Arnica montana is the first choice for both baby and mom. Since Arnica speeds up recovery for bruises and swelling caused by trauma, it is also a terrific preventive for jaundice.
Parents can also take other measures to minimize or avoid jaundice in their babies. If levels are slightly elevated, babies usually do not require any treatment. Your pediatrician may suggest an increase in the frequency of breastfeeding, which will aid in eliminating the bilirubin.
Light therapy (also referred to as bili lights, or phototherapy) helps break down bilirubin in baby’s skin. Phototherapy has been traditionally done in the hospital over the course of one to two days, where the baby is placed naked under lights specifically designed to counteract bilirubin. The treatment, however, can also be done at home using a fiber-optic blanket or band that wraps around the baby. The latter takes longer than the conventional hospital treatment and is more commonly recommended for babies with less severe cases of jaundice. Adverse effects of phototherapy include burns (similar to sunburn), skin rash, loose stools, temperature problems, damage to the retina if the eyes are not properly protected, and dehydration.
Check your baby for any changes in coloring. It is best to observe in natural daylight. Gently press your finger on the tip of your baby’s nose or her forehead. If the skin looks pale when pressing, there is no jaundice (this can be done on babies of all skin colors), while a yellow hue indicates jaundice. If this is the case, don’t panic! Call your doctor to discuss a course of action to take, if any.
Frequent nursing is helpful in flushing out the bilirubin. For slightly levels, increasing your breastfeeding can often be effective in eliminating bilirubin.
Sunbathe your baby. Both of my sons were slightly yellow during their first week, so as a precaution, I let them “bask” in the natural daylight. If the weather is cloudy or cold, a blue incandescent light or “grow light” may be used.
1.Place baby in diaper only on a blanket next to a closed window in direct light.
2.“Sunbathe” for approximately fifteen minutes, three times a day.
3.Avoid allowing baby to become chilled (through exposure to drafts), overheated, or sunburned.
4.Cover baby’s eyes.
Aconitum napellus (Aconite) is used for jaundice that appears acutely and suddenly. It is also useful in soothing fright, either a mother’s or a baby’s.
Arnica montana (Arnica) is indicated for jaundice that is caused from a difficult or traumatic birth. If a baby is bruised or swollen, use this remedy as a preventive.
Chelidonium maius (Chelidonium) is a prominent liver and jaundice remedy recommended for babies who are tired with sluggish bowels.
Lycopodium clavatum (Lycopodium) babies are irritable and constipated. The belly rumbles loudly and is full of gas, and symptoms are worse from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.