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Newborn Jaundice Guidelines Released

American Academy of Pediatrics gives specific treatment advice

TUESDAY, July 6, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Updated recommendations for identifying and managing newborn jaundice have been released by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

Most infants have mild jaundice that poses no threat, but in rare cases it can lead to brain damage. Jaundice occurs when there's a build up of a chemical called bilirubin, which is found in everyone's blood and removed by the liver.

In some infants, bilirubin can reach dangerous levels and result in a form of brain damage called kernicterus.

These updated AAP guidelines provide doctors and other health professionals with specific treatment advice. The guidelines are also meant to educate the public and ease parents' concerns.

Key recommendations included in the updated guidelines include:

  • Doctors should perform a systematic assessment on all infants, prior to discharge from hospital, for subsequent risk of severe jaundice.
  • Medical personnel should schedule a follow-up visit within three to five days of age when the baby's bilirubin level is highest.
  • Mothers should breast-feed at least eight to 12 times a day for the first few days. This helps produce enough milk and helps control the baby's bilirubin levels.
  • Parents should be given written and oral information about newborn jaundice.

The guidelines appear in the July issue of Pediatrics.

More information

The Nemours Foundation has more about newborn jaundice.

SOURCE: American Academy of Pediatrics, news release, July 6, 2004
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