Photo by: Petr Bonek via Shutterstock
The Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology or Empa developed an illuminated fabric which can be used to make baby clothes like pajamas, and blanket the baby with light.This is beneficial for newborn babies with jaundice to get light therapy while enjoying the warmth of their mothers' arms.
The research team led by Luciano Boesel at Empa developed the material by weaving textiles with optically conductive fibers.The light source for the light-conducting threads comes from LEDs lights powered by batteries.The threads were woven into a satin material that distributed the light supply evenly on the entire fabric.Baby clothing made from this material that looks like a sleeping bag can allow parents to hold and feed the baby while receiving treatment.The onesies and pajamas made from this material spread light to the baby's whole body but do not reach the baby's sensitive eyes.
"The photonic textiles are washable and tolerated well by the skin.The satin fabric is smooth and matches the wearing comfort of a typical baby onesie," said Maike Quandt, a material researcher and lead author of the publication.
Jaundice in Infants
Jaundice is a yellowish discoloration of the skin, the white of the eyes, and the mucous membranes.It is caused by elevated levels of bilirubin, a toxic degradation product and yellow pigment found in blood.The condition in newborns is called neonatal jaundice and is a common phenomenon because the metabolism of babies is not very resilient in the first few days after birth.
One of the functions of the liver is to get rid of toxins in the body, but the hemoglobin degradation may overwhelm the baby's liver.The yellow pigments appearing on the skin of the baby occurs when the bilirubin builds up.If the bilirubin levels go very high, the yellow pigments can reach the brain and can only be prevented by blood transfusion.
In order to avoid the need for blood transfusions, the clinician will need to put the baby with their eyes covered inside an incubator filled with blue light.Light therapy converts bilirubin in a soluble form so that the baby's immature organs can remove it easily.
Diseases Associated with Jaundice
Jaundice is considered a benign condition and goes away once the bilirubin in the system has been cleared by the liver.But it can also indicate a serious problem related to the liver, gallbladder, pancreas, or the red blood cells.In adults, jaundice is an indicator of liver infection, liver cancer, liver scarring or cirrhosis, alcohol abuse, hardened fat or gallstones, hepatitis infection, cancer of the pancreas, parasites, blood disease, or adverse reaction to certain medications.
Infant jaundice may occur in preterm babies, babies born before 38 weeks gestation, and some breastfed babies.The yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes are the common symptoms of infant jaundice, which appears between the second and fourth day after birth.A severe case of infant jaundice may be indicated by one or more of the following symptoms, according to the Mayo Clinic.
- The skin and the whites of the eyes become more yellow.
- The abdomen, arms or legs started to look yellow.
- Your baby is feeding badly or is not gaining weight.
- Your baby is difficult to wake up, listless, or sick.
- Your baby makes high-pitched cries.
A severe case of infant jaundice may be caused by an underlying problem.It can be caused by an internal bleeding, infection in the blood, bacterial or viral infections, incompatibility between the mother's blood and the baby's blood, an enzyme deficiency, and malfunction of the liver.There are major risk factors that can cause complications, such as the premature birth of the baby, serious bruising during birth, the type of blood, and breastfeeding.
1.Acute bilirubin encephalopathy is a complication of jaundice in which bilirubin reaches the brain, and the chemical is toxic to brain cells.Symptoms of this complication include difficulty waking up, high pitched cries, backward arching of the neck and body, and fever.
2.Kernicterus is a syndrome after the acute bilirubin encephalopathy causes permanent damage to the brain.A permanent upward gaze, hearing loss, and improper development of tooth enamel are some permanent damages in kernicterus.
Treatment for Infant Jaundice
In addition to light therapy and blood transfusions, the baby can be treated with intravenous immunoglobin.The treatment involves transferring the antibodies from the mother to the baby to help break down blood cells.It may decrease jaundice and reduce the chance for blood transfusions.
In your home, there are a couple of remedies for non-severe jaundice.Frequent feedings by giving the baby more milk will cause frequent bowel movements.It increases the amount of bilirubin removed by the baby's body.For the first several days, your baby should be breastfed for at least eight times and for up to 12 feedings in a day.For babies under formulas, feeding should be done every two to three hours with one to two ounces of formula milk for the first week.