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How to Prevent Newborn Jaundice Prenatally

By Darla Ferrara ; Updated August 14, 2017

Jaundice is a term given when the skin and whites of the eyes develop a yellowish tint due to a buildup of biliruben in the blood. For a newborn baby, the condition is common. During gestation, the mother’s liver will filter biliruben out of the blood of the fetus. After the baby is born, this process is taken over by the infant’s liver. Biliruben is a by-product of the breakdown of red blood cells. Infants break these cells down at a faster rate than adults. In addition, the new livers take time to catch up on filtering process. All these factors work together to create jaundice. There is little you can do prenatally to prevent jaundice. However, some basic prenatal care and assessment may reduce the risk.

  1. Take care of yourself during your pregnancy and talk to your obstetrician about prenatal risk factors. A healthy mother during pregnancy can help prevent problems with the baby. Eat right and take prenatal vitamins throughout your term. Get plenty of rest, especially in the third trimester. Excess activity and fatigue may cause you to go into labor early. One risk factor for jaundice is premature birth.

  2. Call your doctor immediately if you have contractions well before your due date. If caught early, it may be possible to stop the premature birth and avoid the jaundice associated with premature babies.

  3. Discuss the use of drugs during your labor with your doctor or midwife. According to the website Childbirth Solutions, some drugs administered during labor may induce jaundice in the newborn. Consider having a natural birth and avoiding drugs during delivery.

  4. Test your blood and the baby’s father’s blood for Rh factor. Rh factor is an enzyme that sits on the surface of red blood cells. An individual with this enzyme is Rh positive, and without it, Rh negative. If the mother is Rh negative and the father is Rh positive, the mother can potentially carry an Rh positive baby. This causes antibodies in the mother to fight the Rh factor in the baby. The mother will require treatment with a product containing Rh immune globulin to prevent serious complications for the newborn, including jaundice.

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