First module: Jaundice (aka high bilirubin in babies) overview
Learn what makes bilirubin high in babies, how the current paradigm treats high bilirubin, and the potential risks of sticking with the status quo and phototherapy
There are a few, very rare conditions that can cause disease-driven newborn jaundice. These are severe problems—true diseases. These are not easy to test for. Pathological jaundice (as opposed to physiological jaundice) will be covered in future modules. First, let’s dig in to the current model of physiological newborn jaundice knowledge and care.
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Newborn jaundice is usually caused by one or more of the following scenarios:
Constipation/lack of hydration causing slowed bilirubin elimination through the baby’s urine and feces
Overly rapid turnover of blood cells in the baby (this can indicate a problem of the circadian rhythm which should control cell growth and death)
Immature liver from a baby who was born prematurely before the liver was mature
Incompatible maternal blood in the baby’s circulation from birth
The last scenario (number 4) usually resolves itself quickly. Here's what happens: sometimes more than usual amount of maternal blood gets into fetal circulation in the birth process. If that blood is of an incompatible type, this can lead to the baby having to quickly rid itself of the maternal blood. This creates a temporary excess of bilirubin from the fight with the maternal blood cells. Remember, bilirubin is a byproduct of the breakdown of red blood cells. Once the mother's blood is cleared, the baby has only their own blood to process. If they are healthy, that marks the end of their jaundice.
Physiological jaundice in the newborn *usually* resolves itself
Actually, in most cases, the situation usually resolves itself with minimal outside interference. If the baby keeps nursing well, they maintain hydration which in turn helps them drop the bilirubin through their excretory system. The liver grows and develops and gets more capable of dealing with the bilirubin (and everything else a liver does). The baby’s circadian rhythm gets stronger and stronger, and cell growth/death becomes more cyclic. And that’s why so many holistic providers tend to dismiss newborn jaundice.
There are long-term outcomes for a baby having high bilirubin and additional outcomes for undergoing phototherapy for high bilirubin
More than half of babies now experience newborn jaundice. That’s a lot! And we know some more stuff about it that we didn’t use to know, such as that rates of neurodevelopmental disorders and other health problems may be higher among newborns who experienced jaundice than those who didn’t. If all cases just resolved themselves, there would be no question here about the current model of care. But all cases don’t resolve themselves, and even those that do, tend to experience higher rates of adverse outcomes compared with newborns who did not experience jaundice or jaundice treatment.
At present, too many babies get close, or cross, the threshold where the potential for lifelong brain damage can occur every year. Even if not all of these cases are truly in danger, their providers and parents are worried enough about the risk that they are willing to:
perform millions and millions of painful heel-prick tests each year
separate millions of babies from their mothers for hours and days of phototherapy in an incubator each year
or, in areas that prefer wet-cupping, they perform a technique that removes some of baby’s own blood through the skin!
Risks of phototherapy for newborns
These treatments are dehydrating (which itself is a risk factor for jaundice); babies that get them usually have to be put on supplemental milk or fluids. This can then interfere with maternal supply, as well as tax the newborn’s sensitive digestive system. Phototherapy itself may also come with both short- and long-term harm for babies—a possibility only recently coming to awareness. Some of the possible harm from phototherapy itself includes: hemolysis, allergic diseases, DNA damage and even cancer.
Risks of incubators for newborns
Incubators have a highly charged electric field which has been shown to decrease a newborn’s vagal tone, which is a sign of wellbeing. The technology to ground incubators, though known, has not yet been widely adopted.
The very act of putting a baby in an ungrounded incubator can start to make them decrease in vitality. If you are interested in this, here’s the science behind how this works:
And part of this is from nnemf dysregulation of calcium ions:
These calcium levels mediate damage that can be done from bilirubin entering the sensitive brains of newborns:
What I’m leading up to is the question: how can we reframe the paradigm of newborn jaundice care to better serve babies? That is what I aim to do with this course.
Below, you will find some reading to help understand the scope of the newborn jaundice problem and why the conventional paradigm needs a shift, now.
Then, in the rest of the lessons, you will learn even more about the specific ways we can better advocate for the babies (our own, or the multitudes worldwide each year) going through this.
Email Nikko to find out about the next live online video teaching or about bringing this information to your organization.
Reading for Module 1:
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