Normal Bilirubin Levels in Newborns – Why Can They Be Different?
Normal bilirubin levels in newborns are calculated and assessed based on a number of various factors like baby’s age, whether the baby was born pre- or full term and presence of any illnesses at birth. Generally, normal bilirubin levels in newborns that are overall healthy peak on the second to fourth days. This is expected and not alarming, however, close monitoring of higher than normal bilirubin levels in newborns is performed to make sure they taper off over the course of a few days.
If the bilirubin levels continuously rise, a neonatal hyperbilirubinemia is suspected and bilirubin phototherapy is prescribed. Neonatal professionals like to see levels of bilirubin no higher that 15 mg/dL, since anything higher can cause dangerous complications and require immediate treatment; in rare cases infants might require blood exchange transfusion to supply them with pure blood.
Some very experienced pediatricians or family practitioners can tell if an infant experiences a neonatal jaundice by simply looking at the color of the skin and sclera of the newborns. When babies’ normal bilirubin levels rise above 5 mg/dL, their faces and the whites of the eyes will take on a yellowish color. Once the normal bilirubin levels in newborns are elevated higher than 15 mg/dL, the yellow color is likely to move downward towards the baby’s abdomen and stop at the navel level. And finally, with normal bilirubin levels in newborns above 20 mg/dL or higher, babies are usually fully covered by a characteristic yellowish tint from head to toes. Immediate neonatal jaundice treatment is recommended when infant’s palms of the hands or soles of the feet are colored yellow, which in itself is a very alarming sign.
Rapidly progressing and uncontrolled neonatal hyperbilirubinemia is very dangerous in certain cases and can have severe complications in the forms of cerebral palsy, hearing damage and even damage to the brain cells.
Normal bilirubin levels in newborns are different since so many various factors must be considered before making a final diagnosis and prescribing necessary treatment. While certain bilirubin levels might be normal for a healthy infant, the same bilirubin blood count might be dangerously high for a pre-term or gravely ill newborn.