The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has released new guidance on how babies with jaundice should be cared for.
A blood test should be taken within two hours of birth from a child with suspected or obvious jaundice and doctors and nurses have been told not just to rely on how a baby looks, as it can be hard to judge the severity of the condition solely by visual inspection.
NICE’s guidance also advised that newly born babies should be frequently checked in the first three days to quickly identify children whose jaundice could lead to serious problems. A blood test to check levels of serum bilirubin should be administered within two hours of birth, and then every six hours in the first day for actual or suspected cases.
After children with suspected jaundice are more than a day old, a transcutaneous bilirubinometer (TBM) scanning device should assess those who were born after the 35th week of pregnancy. The guidance also states a serum bilirubin test should be carried out for children delivered before 35 weeks of pregnancy and jaundiced within 24 hours of being born.
Neurological condition kernicterus, which has been linked to cerebral palsy, hearing loss and sight problems, can be caused by severe jaundice and jaundice which goes on for a long time can indicate a serious liver disease which needs urgent medical care.