Newborn jaundice: What you shouldn’t do if your baby has this condition

June 03, 2020
  • DO NOT: Give your baby a sunbath
    1 / 4 DO NOT: Give your baby a sunbath

    It is an old wives’ tale that exposing your newborn to the sun will cure jaundice. The fact is, this is not recommended as she can become dehydrated which, in turn, worsens jaundice, says Dr Chiou Fang Kuan, head and consultant from the Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition Service at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH).

    Placing your baby in the sun may also cause sunburns, which are painful, he adds. 

    (Also read: 7 things you should know about colds and flu in babies)

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  • DO NOT: Bathe your baby in TCM herbs
    2 / 4 DO NOT: Bathe your baby in TCM herbs

    There is no medical evidence to support the use of herbs used in traditional Chinese medicine, in your baby’s jaundice treatment, says Dr Chiou. 

    (Also read: Why your baby frequently vomits: what you should do)

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  • DO NOT: Feed your baby some water to “flush out” the jaundice and stop breastfeeding
    3 / 4 DO NOT: Feed your baby some water to “flush out” the jaundice and stop breastfeeding

    The American Academy of Paediatrics advises against supplementing breastfed infants who are not dehydrated with water or sugar water. Instead, nurse at least eight to 12 times a day for the first few days. 

    Yet, more often than not, mums are wrongly advised to stop breastfeeding in these situations, says Betty Lee, a lactation consultant in private practice. The lack of knowledge and awareness can add stress to those who are struggling to nurse. “As long as the baby is gaining weight and is active,  jaundice is not dangerous. Rarely do mums need to stop breastfeeding even for a short time,” she says.

    (Also read: Why your breastfed baby does not need water)

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  • More facts about jaundice
    4 / 4 More facts about jaundice

    Jaundice affects about three in five full-term babies, and as many as four in five preemies, in the first three to five days of their lives, Dr Chiou shares.

    Known as physiologic jaundice, this usually lasts only about a week. Lactation consultant Betty explains this is because the newborn’s liver is not mature enough to get rid of excess bilirubin from the body. 

    The jaundice can worsen if your baby is not getting enough milk during this time, she says. In this instance, making sure that your newborn stays hydrated by nursing her frequently will help bring the level down, Betty adds. 

    For most babies, this form of jaundice normally tapers off within a week or two.

    (Also read: 7 things you should know about fever in babies)


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