National charity the Humpty Dumpty Foundation has provided the Longreach Hospital with two specialised pieces of equipment for babies with jaundice – A transcutaneous bilirubin monitor and a bilisoft bed to the hospital totalling about $8000 in value.
Central West Health Maternal and Child Health Services Manager Deirdre Murphy says the $2000 monitor allows the baby’s jaundice level to be tested non-invasively by placing a special meter against the baby’s skin.
“Using this meter virtually eliminates the disadvantages and time element associated with blood draws and laboratory services. There is less risk of infection, less trauma, and no pain while allowing a fast time to discharge or a decision toward treatment.”
The $6000 Bilisoft bed allowed for the baby to be treated for jaundice, if necessary, by being bathed with ultraviolet light without having to leave the mother’s bedside.
About eight to 10 babies a year in the Central West would benefit from the new equipment.
Ms Murphy says before a baby was born, they had a lot of red blood cells to carry oxygen from the placenta.
“After birth, they don’t need as many of these cells, so they are broken down in the liver and passed in the baby’s bowel movements. Your baby looks jaundiced (yellow) when there is a build-up of the broken-down red blood cells (bilirubin) in their skin.’’
“Most times, the jaundice will go away over one to two weeks and does not cause any long-term problems for most babies, but sometimes the jaundice needs to be treated and phototherapy – or bathing with ultraviolet light – is the most common form of treatment.’’
There is more chance of a baby getting jaundiced and needing treatment if they are born before full term, are not feeding well, have a brother or sister who was jaundiced ort have a different blood group from the mother, have an infection or became bruised during their birth For more than 28 years, the foundation has been purchasing medical equipment for sick and injured children in paediatric wards, neonatal units, and maternity and emergency departments in hospitals across Australia.