Jaundice in Children
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Most parents recognise the fear and trepidation that comes with their child falling severely ill. It can be one of the most frightening things a person can go through. Not knowing about the condition also adds to this fear. This can change, as learning about an illness can not only alleviate your concerns but help you provide the best care possible for your child. One of the conditions that can affect numerous children worldwide is jaundice. It is an illness that affects the bloodstream, liver, digestive, and excretory systems of the body. This condition is easy to identify as it will turn your child’s skin and sclerae (the white part of the eyes) yellow. Jaundice can affect adults as well as kids.
What is Jaundice?
Amongst the numerous conditions that can affect your child, one of the easier illnesses to identify is jaundice. Although jaundice alone is not a dangerous illness, the yellowing of the skin and the white part of the eyes is a sign of a rise in bilirubin in the bloodstream. Bilirubin, commonly known as bile, is a yellow fluid that is produced in the liver and as the end product of red-blood-cell (haemoglobin) breakdown. This fluid is essential to the functions of the body, particularly the digestive tract. This fluid usually helps regulate the digestive system and is excreted through the stool. When it fails to be excreted and begins to work its way into your system, it can spike the amount of bilirubin in the blood, which leads to a condition known as hyperbilirubinemia. This is the primary cause of the change in the colour of a person’s eyes and skin.
Types of Jaundice
1. Obstructive Jaundice
This type of jaundice is caused when the natural excretion of bile from your body is blocked, causing extra bile to be present in your liver.
2. Pre-Hepatic Jaundice
Also called haemolytic jaundice, this is caused when the red blood cells break down much faster than they should. Red blood cells have bile particles in them, and when they break down too fast, it can cause excess bile in your body.
3. Hepatocellular Jaundice
Commonly called intra-hepatic jaundice, this is caused due to some form of trauma or injury that damages the liver, causing a large amount of bile to be present in your body.
Causes of Jaundice in Kids
Jaundice can be caused due to numerous different reasons, depending on the age of the child.
Causes of Jaundice in Newborns
- Physiological hyperbilirubinemia
- ABO incompatibility
- Rh incompatibility
- G-6-PD deficiency,Crigler-Najjar syndrome,Gilbert Syndrome
- Biliary atresia
- Choledochal cysts
- Hepatocellular causes
- Intrauterine infections
- Metabolic causes
- Breast milk jaundice
- If your baby is born premature, jaundice is common. This is because the liver is still developing and the bilirubin isn’t flushed out of their system. This should correct itself in few weeks.
Causes of Jaundice in Children
- Sickle cell crisis
- Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency (G6PD)
- Drugs or other toxins
- Autoimmune disorders
Symptoms of Jaundice
There are many ways to identify jaundice, some of the symptoms of this condition are:
- The skin and the white part of the eyes turn yellow
- Frequent high fevers
- Extremely itchy skin
- Pale stool or yellow coloured stool
- Dark urine
- Fatigue accompanied by other illnesses
- A rapid loss of weight
- A constant bitter taste in your child’s mouth
- Chills accompanied by some of the other symptoms
- Abdominal pain
- Joint pains with other signs
- Loss of appetite
Diagnosing jaundice can be done in different ways. The tests to be taken up will depend on the physical examination findings. Here are some other things your doctor may ask you to do to confirm the diagnosis.
- Get an ultrasound abdomen done to check liver size, echotexture, bile duct lumen and the extrahepatic system
- Doctors may ask you to do an LFT. This is a liver function test, usually, a blood test that can help evaluate the levels of bilirubin in the blood.
- The lab may take samples for a complete blood count, haemoglobin count, peripheral smear, reticulocyte count. These routine tests help doctors diagnose jaundice.
- Routine urine sample to test the urobilinogen in your urine.
- Bilirubin tests- both direct and indirect bilirubin to detect the presence of bilirubin in your child’s blood.
- At times, doctors can diagnose a child by doing a physical examination where they check for swelling in the feet, legs, and ankles. All these indicate cirrhosis of the liver .
- If suspecting Wilsons disease may get Serum copper levels and serum Cerulopasmin levels .
Treatment of Jaundice in Children
Whether you’re treating a four-year-old child suffering from jaundice or an adult, the patient must get sufficient rest, and increase the intake of fluids. In most cases, this should cure the condition, and in the cases, it doesn’t, here are a few other treatments:
- If jaundice is causing hepatitis, anti-viral medication could be prescribed by Doctor to help combat the condition.
- In the case of blockage of the bile ducts, your child may need surgery.
- In cases of sickle cell anaemia or thalassemia, a complete blood cell replacement procedure may be required.
- If jaundice is caused by Gilbert Syndrome, the treatment, if any, is minimal and varies from doctor to doctor.
- Jaundice caused due to a weak liver condition cannot be fixed. Doctors, in this case, may advise a change of diet and lifestyle to help slow down the deterioration of the liver.
Talk to your physician to come up with a customised treatment plan to help you combat this condition.
Apart from the medicated treatments, some parents may choose to opt for natural home remedies. Here are a few remedies that may help combat jaundice.
Rich in enzymes called lycopene that repair damaged liver, it is believed that tomatoes have properties that can help rid your child of jaundice.
This ingredient reinforces enzymes that flush out carcinogens that hurt the liver and can help beat jaundice in kids.
3. Sugarcane Juice
It is estimated that apart from helping restore glucose, sugarcane has particular properties that can fasten recovery from jaundice.
Not only does buttermilk re-energise and refresh your child, but it also hydrates them and helps improve digestion. This can help combat jaundice.
5. Barley Water
Considered the quickest natural cure for jaundice, it is assumed that barley water has properties that improve the functioning of the digestive tract and liver.
6. Lemon and Beetroot Juice
Lemon juice works to protect the liver, and beetroot has properties to purify the blood and help digestion. The combination of the two can help cure jaundice quickly and efficiently.
Diet for Children Suffering From Jaundice
During jaundice, it is essential to regulate your child’s diet religiously. This is because this condition can cause weakness and fatigue. Here are a few things to keep in mind while creating a meal plan for a child suffering from jaundice:
- Hydration is the key. This illness will dehydrate your child rapidly, ensure they stay well hydrated throughout the day.
- Keep the meals short and frequent; this will keep their energy levels up without overloading their system. This also will help digestion
- Fresh fruits and vegetables should be consumed.
- Give your kids carb-rich food with no oil or fat
- Refined sugar
- Saturated fat found in animal fat
- If your child has low energy levels give them a glucose supplement.
Talk to a dietician and a doctor before implementing a diet plan.
Here are a few tips to help prevent jaundice:
- Make sure your kids stay hygienic.
- Ensure your kids drink mineral or bottled water or boil the water before drinking it.
- Eat fresh food, and have a balanced diet.
- Ensure your kids get their vaccines.
We recommend you talk to your doctor for more tips on how to prevent jaundice.
Jaundice can be a tough disease to face. It can exhaust your kids and you. Remember, with the right treatment and care; they can make a complete recovery. It is highly recommended that you follow through with a treatment plan for the entire prescribed duration, and ensure that proper hygiene is maintained. Diet and exercise with good hygiene can help avoid diseases like jaundice.
Also Read: Rheumatic Fever in Children