Newborn Jaundice (Neonatal Jaundice) (cont.)

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What are the complications of jaundice in newborns?

The complications associated with neonatal jaundice occur when bilirubin levels reach toxic levels, and the bilirubin gets into the central nervous system and damages the brain. The brain toxicity can either be reversible (early acute bilirubin encephalopathy) or the damage may be permanent and irreversible (kernicterus). Permanent damage may lead to cerebral palsy, deafness, and intellectual impairment.

Can jaundice in newborns be prevented?

Some degree of jaundice in newborns is normal and not entirely preventable. However, the prevention of significant hyperbilirubinemia and its complications is possible through proper screening (obtaining bilirubin levels), identifying newborns at high-risk, close surveillance and monitoring of those infants with hyperbilirubinemia, parent education, and prompt treatment when deemed medically indicated.

What is the prognosis of jaundice in newborns?

Generally speaking, the prognosis for newborns with jaundice is excellent if they receive the appropriate monitoring and treatment, and the vast majority of infants with neonatal jaundice will improve with no adverse effects. However, health care professionals need to remain vigilant and parents need be informed and educated about the potential dangers of severe hyperbilirubinemia in order to prevent the devastating consequences of kernicterus.

Medically reviewed by Douglas Barton, MD; Board Certified Pediatrics

REFERENCES: and Kernicterus. Neonatal Jaundice.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/30/2015

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