3.4  Assess for jaundice

When you assess for jaundice, you look to see whether the child has yellow discolouration in the eyes and skin (for example, look at the infant’s palms and soles to see if they are yellow).

Jaundice is yellow discolouration of skin. Almost all newborns may have ‘physiological jaundice’ during the first week of life due to several physiological changes taking place after birth. Physiological jaundice usually appears between 48 and 72 hours of age; maximum intensity is seen on the fourth or fifth day (the seventh day in preterm newborns) and disappears by 14 days. It does not extend to the palms and soles, and does not need any treatment. However, if jaundice appears on the first day, persists beyond 14 days and extends to the young infant’s palms and soles of the feet, it indicates pathological jaundice, which could lead to brain damage.

To look for jaundice, you should press the infant’s forehead with your fingers to blanch the skin, then remove your fingers and look for yellow discolouration under natural light. If there is yellow discolouration, the infant has jaundice. Look at the eyes of the infant for yellowish discolouration as well. To assess for severity, repeat the process with the infant’s palms and soles too.

  • How would you look for jaundice in a newborn baby?

  • As you read, there are several ways you could do this, for example looking for signs on the infant’s forehead by pressing the skin there, and also looking at the infant’s eyes, palms and soles to see if there is any discolouration.

3.3  Assess for bacterial infection

3.5  Classify bacterial infection and jaundice