Placenta and Jaundice

Hi! Here is another excerpt from my research on the placenta.

Jaundice

Physiological jaundice in newborns is caused by an excess of billirubin. Billirubin is a yellow pigment that happens when red blood cells are destroyed, which is a normal process. Shortly after birth, newborns do not have what it takes to efficiently get rid of that excess billirubin, which enters the tissues and gives the baby that yellowish color.

Before the birth, one of the functions of the placenta is to take the billiribin produced by the baby, send it to the mother's liver, and give back new red blood cells to the baby. Right after birth, it takes some time for the baby's liver to start functionning, so sometimes the baby has a little too much billirubin in it's system, and gets jaundiced. If the billirubin level becomes too high, the baby has to recieve phototherapy treatments, where it will be exposed to a blue light to eliminate the excess billirubin.

Some health professionnals say that leaving the umbilical cord intact causes jaundice in newborns. Belief is that they have to control the amound of blood entering the baby's body by immediately clamping and cutting the cord after birth, so that the baby doesn't have ''too much blood'', too much blood cells that will recycle themselves and produce billirubin. But if we leave things alone, the cord will stop pulsating on it's own when the baby has recieved the right amount of blood.

By trying to prevent jaundice with early cord clamping and cutting, we put babies at risk of other problems, like anemia and other conditions related to an inadequate blood volume. Furthermore, we have to keep in mind that the blood the baby recieves from the placenta is fresh, oxygenated blood, and not old blood cells about to be destroyed. 

There is also another type of jaundice called pathological jaundice, which is more serious and complicated, but the general idea when it comes to cord cutting remains the same. 

Even the American Academy of pediatrics is starting to admit that the risk of jaundice is not increased with delayed cord cutting. In a study entitled Effect of Timing of Cord Clamping on Neonatal Venous Hematocrit Values and Clinical Outcome at Term: A Randomized, Controlled Trial, here is the conclusion they came up with:
''Delayed cord clamping at birth increases neonatal mean venous hematocrit within a physiologic range. Neither significant differences nor harmful effects were observed among groups. Furthermore, this intervention seems to reduce the rate of neonatal anemia. This practice has been shown to be safe and should be implemented to increase neonatal iron storage at birth.''

Some associations like ACOG still claim that delayed cord clamping slightly increase the possibility of jaundice, but that the benefits regarding increased blood volume and increased iron levels, among others, outweight the risks.

Have a nice day!

Sources:
LIM, Robin, Placenta the Forgotten Chakra, Half Angel Press, Bali, 2010
http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/117/4/e779.full
The opinion of ACOG



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