What is jaundice, or jaundice, of the newborn? At birth, all babies without exception are affected by the jaundice of the newborn, that is to say, jaundice. Rest assured, this is not serious. Explanations. What is the jaundice of the newborn? The jaundice of the newborn is due to the excess of a yellow pigment in the blood called bilirubin. When it is born, the baby has a higher number of red blood cells than the adult, and a large part of them is destroyed. The red pigment (hemoglobin) contained in the red blood cells then turns into a yellow pigment, bilirubin. Instead of being metabolized by the liver and eliminated by the urine, bilirubin is sometimes stored partly in the skin, hence this yellow coloring. This is why most often it is said that it is the jaundice of the newborn. It must then be monitored in the blood because excessive levels have a toxic effect on the baby's brain and can cause brain damage. This is called kernicterus. The bilirubin meter, an electronic reader placed on the baby's skin, gives an indication of this rate. If the value is high, a check is made through a blood test. Does the rate exceed a certain threshold? To prevent it from climbing, we use phototherapy to treat the baby. Phototherapy to treat jaundice in newborns To treat jaundice of the newborn, doctors use phototherapy. They place the naked baby, sometimes without a diaper, eyes protected by glasses, in a special incubator, under compact fluorescent tubes emitting a blue light. This light makes bilirubin soluble, which is then eliminated in the urine. How long does the treatment take? It depends on the newborns. In general, a few hours, in increments of three or four, for one to three days are enough to solve the problem. Premature infants are quite frequently placed under phototherapy. Indeed, their liver, even more, immature than that of a full-term child, has more difficulty in "digesting" bilirubin. Most infants, whether they have had treatment or not, have regained their pink complexion when they leave the maternity ward. Sometimes it is still a little yellow because bilirubin is not completely eliminated from their body. But there is no need to worry: they already have a few days. More mature than at birth, their liver is then perfectly able to metabolize this pigment. The milk jaundice of the mother, what is it? It's not breast milk that makes the baby turn yellow! Some women make milk that contains a substance that inhibits the metabolism of bilirubin in the infant's liver. Her skin remains yellow longer than other newborns during the entire period of breastfeeding. This type of jaundice poses no risk and should not, under any circumstances, lead you to interrupt breastfeeding. Jaundice by the incompatibility of blood groups Newborn jaundice is accentuated when there is incompatibility Rhesus between mother and infant, which happens when the mother is Rh - and the baby Rhesus + (from the second child, if the first is also Rhesus +). At birth, the infant is at risk of nuclear jaundice and anemia because too many red blood cells are destroyed. In the most serious cases, one can already act in utero thanks to an exsanguine-transfusion, which makes it possible to change all the blood of the baby. In other cases, we wait for the birth. The newborn is then hospitalized for about a week. An exsanguine-transfusion is sometimes necessary but, most often, intensive phototherapy is sufficient. The risk of kernicterus disappears after a few days but the risk of severe anemia persists longer. This is why doctors monitor the blood count of the child for several months.