Does Jaundice Affect Intelligence? Three Major Diseases Causing Pathological Jaundice
Jaundice in newborns is a common symptom, but some people claim that jaundice can affect a newborn's intelligence. Is this true? Let's take a closer look to see if jaundice has any impact on newborns.
Does Neonatal Jaundice Affect Intelligence?
Physiological jaundice in newborns is a normal phenomenon that occurs during the neonatal period. It results from a combination of factors, including the increased production of red blood cells in the low-oxygen environment of the womb, the immaturity of these red blood cells, their susceptibility to destruction, and the newborn's limited liver function. These factors contribute to an excess production of bilirubin in newborns, approximately twice the amount found in adults. Physiological jaundice typically appears in full-term newborns around 2-3 days after birth, peaks around days 4-5, and usually resolves by days 5-7.
Infants with physiological jaundice may exhibit varying degrees of yellowing of the skin, white parts of the eyes, and oral mucosa. The yellowing is more noticeable on the face and upper chest but doesn't affect the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet. The peak of jaundice occurs on days 4-6 after birth, and it generally resolves in full-term newborns by days 10-14. Premature babies may experience jaundice for up to three weeks.
During this time, infants usually remain in good health without any other discomfort. While physiological jaundice is a normal condition, parents should still monitor it closely. Generally, physiological jaundice is mild, with lower bilirubin concentrations in the blood, and it does not affect the infant's intelligence.
Three Major Diseases Causing Pathological Jaundice
Neonatal hemolysis refers to hemolysis caused by blood type incompatibility between the mother and the infant, leading to jaundice. A common cause in China is ABO blood type incompatibility, with the mother typically having type O blood and the child being type A or B. Rh hemolysis is less common, with most mothers being Rh-negative and their infants being Rh-positive. Generally, ABO hemolysis occurs more often in the first pregnancy, while Rh hemolysis is more common in subsequent pregnancies.
The main symptom of neonatal hemolysis is jaundice, which may also be accompanied by anemia and an enlarged liver and spleen. Rh hemolysis typically manifests within 24 hours after birth and gradually intensifies, while ABO hemolysis is less severe than Rh hemolysis. The most severe complication of neonatal hemolysis is the potential for bilirubin encephalopathy, which, if left untreated, can lead to the rapid death of the affected child. Even if the child survives, there are often varying degrees of residual effects.
Neonatal Biliary Atresia
Neonatal biliary atresia occurs when the bile ducts are fibrotic due to a viral infection in the mother's body during pregnancy. This blockage gradually develops after birth. Typically, symptoms of neonatal biliary atresia, including jaundice, appear around two weeks after birth and gradually worsen. The liver also enlarges. Mothers may notice a significant change in their baby's stool color, shifting from light yellow to white.
Neonatal hepatitis is primarily caused by a viral infection in the mother's body. Jaundice typically develops between 1-3 weeks after birth, and it continues to worsen. Some affected infants may experience jaundice after the resolution of physiological jaundice. They may also exhibit symptoms like poor feeding, vomiting, and inadequate weight gain. The color of the baby's stool is normal at birth but gradually becomes pale yellow or grayish-white, while the color of the urine darkens.
In conclusion, while physiological jaundice in newborns is a common and typically benign condition, there are diseases that can cause pathological jaundice, which may have more severe consequences and potentially affect a child's health. However, physiological jaundice alone does not impact an infant's intelligence.