Originally uploaded by jtpuck.
So I mentioned the word 'jaundice' in an earlier post regarding the yellowing of Ian's skin. It was constantly brought up in every check-up by the neonatologist while at the hospital. His numbers had started average and slowly got higher throughout the week. When we visited the pediatrician for the first time yesterday, they grew into a high risk zone.
Jaundice is a common condition in newborns that causes the skin and whites of the eyes to become yellow, due to increased amounts of bilirubin. When bilirubin builds up faster than a newborn's liver can break it down, excrete it into the intestines, and out of the body through stool, a baby becomes jaundiced. If a baby's bilirubin level gets too high, it can cause permanent damage to the nervous system. You can treat jaundice by increasing the frequency of feedings, causing frequent bowel movements, therefore saying bye-bye to the bilirubin. If that doesn't work, say hello to Phototherapy.
Phototherapy uses fluorescent light to help transform bilirubin into a form the body can eliminate quickly. The equipment is a cross between a flatbed scanner and a mini-tanning bed that sits in a bassinet for the baby to lie on. Wearing only a diaper and a cap, he's wrapped in baby-scrubs that velcro shut to keep him in position. Flip the switch and on go the fluorescents. We started this last night, and over 12 hours, his bilirubin levels had already begun to decrease. Today at the pediatrician's office, 4 of the newborns that had come in today showed high levels of bilirubin, so it seems to be fairly common.
Interesting side note, Lyndsey went through this same process when she was a baby. As an adult, she has a bitter taste towards bright lights, especially fluorescents. Ian is taking after his mother more and more each day.
Lastly, how many times did I use the word 'bilirubin' in this post? Go back and count them all, then mulitply that number by a thousand; that's the number of times I've heard that word in my entire life. The first time I heard it was Tuesday.