Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Alien Baby

While Baby Badger and I were in hospital for the second time, she received treatment for jaundice. She was only borderline for requiring treatment, but since we had been admitted for the weight problems the pediatrician thought she may as well deal with both issues at the same time.

Actually, it's all really one issue: here's my understanding of the whole thing (no guarantee of accuracy in the medical detail)... While in the womb your baby has extra red blood cells and once she's born these extra blood cells are broken down into bilirubin which is then processed by the liver. Jaundice occurs when the liver can't keep up with the bilirubin and it presents as a yellowing of the skin and eyes. It's quite common in newborn babies, and they generally sort themselves out in the first few weeks, but if they aren't feeding well it can be difficult for them to flush out the bilirubin. That was the case for Baby Badger.

The treatment was phototherapy using a biliblanket, pictured above. The biliblanket emits a particular frequency of ultra-violet light, which helps break down the bilirubin. That shows that there is some truth to the rumour that putting a jaundiced baby near a sunny window helps clear the jaundice; in fact that's what the community midwife had recommended I did to Baby Badger when we first came home, but it wasn't enough to keep up with her bilirubin levels. If you do use daylight in this way please take care not to let your baby overheat or burn

The biliblanket was put up the back of Baby Badger's vest with the tube coming out between her knees, over the end of the bassinet and into the box of electrical tricks. The effect was to give her the appearance of a blue aura, which at night looked more like something out of Alien! The treatment ran for a day or so while they monitored her bilirubin levels via heel prick tests (poor little mite), then she was monitored for a further eight hours to check that the levels didn't rebound, which thankfully they didn't.


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