Urine crystals, while frightening to first-time parents, are perfectly normal in newborn babies. Usually appearing as reddish "brick dust" powder in the first few diapers, urine crystals can easily be mistaken for blood in the urine, causing undue worry. Most of the time, these crystals will go away on their own, although if they persist past the fifth day of life, you may want to seek the advice of your pediatrician.
Newborn babies who are being fed primarily on colostrum, the highly concentrated early form of breast milk, will often show small red 'brick dust' powder in their wet diapers. The coloration can range from orange to pink and is very common in the first day or two.
Urine, or uric acid crystals, are simply the result of highly concentrated urine, and is generally thought to be caused by the small amount of colostrum the newborn baby is able to digest. The low volume of colostrum is not normally sufficient to produce regular liquid urine, resulting in uric acid crystals. Once the mother's regular breast milk comes in, generally around the third to fifth day, your baby's urine should appear clear.
If the urine crystals persist after the fifth day, your baby may be suffering from dehydration. This is usually the result of insufficient intake of breast milk or infant formula. If your baby is not producing around six wet diapers a day, you should take him to his doctor to have him weighed. If left untreated, dehydration can become a serious health problem in newborns and small infants.
One possible problem with diagnosing dehydration is that many health professionals mistake urine crystals for blood, particularly if you are contacting them over the phone and not in person. For newborn girls, a small amount of vaginal bleeding can result because of the high hormone levels of the mother in the days before birth. Similarly, boys who have been circumcised will have small traces of blood in their diapers. A proper diagnosis can be made by your pediatrician.
If your baby is suffering from dehydration, it is most likely the result of improper breastfeeding technique. If you are unsure about how to ensure that your baby is getting an adequate supply of milk, consult your pediatrician or a lactation consultant. If your baby is formula-fed, check the directions on the label to see if you are preparing the formula correctly. Once the baby is getting their fill of milk, the urine crystals should disappear from any further wet diapers.
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