Newborn jaundice occurs when a baby has a high level of bilirubin in the blood. Bilirubin is a yellow substance that the body creates when it replaces old red blood cells. The liver helps break down the substance so it can be removed from the body in the stool. When the baby is growing in the mother’s womb, the placenta removes bilirubin from the baby’s body. After birth, the baby’s liver starts doing this job but it can take up to 2 weeks for the babys liver to do this efficiently.
Most newborns have some yellowing of the skin and is often most noticeable when the baby is 2 to 4 days old. Most of the time it does not cause problems and goes away within 2 weeks.
How Is Jaundice Treated?
Most jaundice needs no treatment, but when it does, phototherapy (light therapy) is considered very safe and effective: Placing a baby naked in a bassinet, with his eyes covered, under blue “bililights” often does the trick, because ultraviolet light changes the bilirubin to a form that the baby can more easily dispose of in his urine.
Another option involves wrapping the baby in a fiber-optic blanket called a bili-blanket or bili-pad. With a prescription from your doctor, you may be able to rent one of these blankets to treat your baby at home.
Phototherapy is usually effective, but if a baby develops a severe case of jaundice, or his bilirubin levels continue to rise despite phototherapy treatment, he may need to be admitted to the intensive care unit for a blood transfusion called an “exchange transfusion.” This transfusion replaces some of the baby’s blood that contains high bilirubin levels with donor blood containing normal levels.
Does My Maternity Insurance Cover Jaundice?
In Singapore, when a baby has jaundice they’re often taken into NICU for 1-3 days of monitoring. If you have a maternity policy and have fulfilled the wait period, the cost of jaundice treatment is normally covered under the new born care, acute medical conditions benefits. Costs for standard jaundice care can cost up to $3,000 so ensuring you’re protected against this common treatment for newborns is very important.
To discuss the coverage that’s best suited to your circumstances, click here or phone +65 6401 9201 to speak with an Expat Insurance advisor.