My baby’s eyes are quite yellowish. Is it something I should worry about?
Your baby appears to have jaundice.
Check your baby’s skin for jaundice by pressing the baby’s nose under natural daylight. This should appear yellowish if the baby has jaundice.
Jaundice is a yellowish discoloration of the sclera (white of the eyes) and the skin.
Jaundice occurs due to the breakdown of excess red blood cells, of which excess bilirubin is a by-product. Also, since the baby’s liver is still immature, it cannot cope with processing bilirubin for excretion. This leads to increased bilirubin level in the body. This increased level of bilirubin in the blood means that bilirubin becomes absorbed by the skin and sclera. If this is not monitired and treated, it could enter the brain tissues (kernicterus) and cause serious problem.
A degree of jaundice is normal in a newborn if the jaundice appears around day 3 postbirth. This is also referred to as physiological jaundice. It would usually clear off around day 10 to 14 days, as long as the baby feeds, pees and poops as required.
Jaundice becomes abnormal when it appears within 24 hours of birth. This is also referred to as pathological jaundice. It can be as a result of an underlying disease condition for example ABO incompatibility/Rhesus isoimmunisation.
Signs that your baby may have jaundice include –
Baby is drowsy or sleepy.
Baby’s sucking or feeding is poor.
Baby’s urine is dark.
Baby’s stool is pale.
Baby’s cry is high-pitched.
The best way to treat jaundice is to help the body excret excess bilirubin in urine and faeces. Therefore, ensure that your baby feeds regularly 2 to 3 hourly (8 to 12 times a day) to enable baby get as much wet and dirty nappies as necessary.
Keep your baby closer to the window to allow morning sunshine come through as this helps.
You may need to take the baby to the hospital for a serum bilirubin test to check the level of bilirubin in the baby’s blood. This will then determine if your baby requires phototherapy or exchange blood transfusion.
In a pathological jaundice, the underlying condition has to be treated. Please seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Thank you for your question, I hope this helps.