When you’re a new parent, you often have so much on your plate that it can be hard to keep track of everything. You aren’t getting much sleep and you’re learning lots of new things as you go. Add it all up, and it’s no wonder that some issues go unnoticed.
Just take what happened to this new dad. He gave his young daughter her very first bath and posted a funny photo of her unhappy reaction on the Internet. Most people thought it was cute, but one observant commenter noticed something strange—and it could’ve been fatal.
Recently, a new dad posted a funny picture of his baby daughter on Reddit. She’d just taken her first bath, and she clearly wasn’t too pleased with the whole process. Her little grimace was absolutely priceless.
Lots of people found the picture hilarious and most of the responses were lighthearted. Of course, everyone loves a good baby meme, and this little girl was no exception. However, one comment was notably different from the rest…
“Are her eyes a bit yellow?” one Reddit user responded. “Looks a bit like it to me, but the whole picture is a bit yellow tinted. Probably fine, but jaundice is a symptom of hyperbilirubinemia in babies,” they added.
“This is very common in the first few days/week of life,” continued the commenter. “If her eyes/skin looks yellow [in real life] and she hasn’t seen a doc she could probably use a checkup.” Then, to help convince the new dad that they weren’t leading him astray with this medical advice, they added, “I’m a paranoid pediatrician.”
This pediatrician made a good point. Neonatal jaundice is actually common—and easily treatable—but if it goes unchecked, it can result in seizures, brain damage, and eventually death. The new dad took this message to heart…
The father later responded to thank the pediatrician, because it actually made a difference. After reading the comment, he brought his daughter to the pediatrician and they were monitoring her health. Who knew Reddit could be such a potential life-saver?
It was unclear whether the Redditor’s daughter actually had jaundice or not, but if it weren’t for one observant commenter, the issue might have gone unnoticed altogether. Thank goodness for the Internet!
Hyperbilirubinemia isn’t something to take lightly, especially if your child is showing symptoms. Though it might look like mild jaundice, it’s actually quite serious. Not everyone is as lucky as this new dad was to have an actual pediatrician chime in online.
Parents should make sure their infant gets treatment if they suspect their child is suffering from this condition. Most pediatricians are already on the lookout for hyperbilirubinemia once the baby is born…
That said, it’s easy for doctors to miss symptoms; they don’t spend as much time with your baby as you do! Believe it or not, hyperbilirubinemia and neonatal jaundice are relatively common in all infants who are born prior to the predicted due date given by an OB-GYN.
The condition is usually caused by one of a few common factors. One of the primary causes of neonatal jaundice in infants is that their livers are simply too underdeveloped to help rid their body of something called bilirubin.
Bilirubin itself isn’t harmful. It’s an orange-yellow pigment formed in the human liver when red blood cells break down naturally. Phototherapy, like sleeping on a “bilibed,” is one way to treat it in infants.
Adults and people with healthy livers do not actually retain bilirubin. Instead, thanks to the help of their livers, the bilirubin is turned into bile and it eventually makes its way out of the body.
When jaundice occurs in infants, it’s usually because they were born premature and their organs—including their livers—aren’t yet mature enough to handle the biological process involved in breaking down bilirubin.
Vitamin D is essential to help with liver function. It can take most infants a couple of days to start breaking down their bilirubin simply because they have never spent any time in the sun before!
Neonatal jaundice is usually diagnosed after the first 48 hours of birth when liver function should increase. It can be found in infants who are suffering from an infection, who are having a reaction to a medication, or who are suffering from an undiagnosed blood disorder, too.
About 60 percent of full-term newborns get jaundice—and that number goes up to 80 percent in premature babies. Babies born to mothers with diabetes are even more likely to suffer from jaundice.
While the most common symptom of this condition is the hallmark yellow-tinted skin and eyes, not all children present jaundice that way. This can make identifying the illness extremely tricky for parents.
Common symptoms of neonatal jaundice that don’t involve yellow skin and eyes include a lack of appetite and a sudden drop in energy levels. Pay close attention to your infant for these signs…
Neonatal jaundice is a serious condition, but thankfully, it’s also a highly treatable one. That’s why if you suspect your child has it—or is exhibiting any of the aforementioned symptoms—you should act immediately. It’s better to be safe than sorry!
Whether or not the man’s daughter ended up having jaundice, the pediatrician who responded with the warning definitely did the right thing. Thankfully, he took all necessary precautions!
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