LUTH Manages Approximately 400 babies for Neonatal Jaundice Monthly
By Chioma Obinna
No fewer than 400 babies affected by neonatal jaundice are managed successfully at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH, Idi Araba, Lagos, every month. To aid the management of the babies,the Year Book Class, YBC, (final year medical students) of College of Medicine, University of Lagos, CMUL, has donated two phototherapy machines to the Neonatal Unit of the hospital.
Neonatal jaundice, according to an Associate Professor of Paediatrics, CMUL, Dr. Chinyere Ezeaka, is a medical emergency capable of damaging a baby’s brain for life.
Jaundice is the yellowness of the eyes, as a result of a breakdown of blood within the first week of life.
Ezeaka who is the Head of Neonatal Unit at LUTH, stated that 50 percent of preterm babies will have severe jaundice and up to 80 to 90 percent of preterm babies have jaundice.
She said three to four cases of jaundice are seen at LUTH daily. “It is the commonest newborn emergency and the commonest reason why babies go home and come back to the hospital. The major thing is to treat it.
“Many mothers are not doing the right thing. It is not just telling mothers to go and take ampiclox or take paw paw water, or agbo, not wearing yellow cloth or using camphor for the baby’s clothes. Those are the things that could cause serious problem.”
Jaundice is an emergency. When you notice it, rush the baby for appropriate care.”
She said LUTH needed to procure modern phototherapy machines to replace the outdated ones in use currently. The machines donated by the Year Book Class, when placed over the baby and the light is shone on the baby, would break down the bilirubin on the skin.
“Sometimes a baby can be on it for three to five days. We don’t have enough machines, many hospitals do not have enough, and sometimes you have to bring in two to three babies together to share a machine.
“The second machine they brought is called the Bili-bed whereby if the jaundice level is high the baby lies on it while we also place the other one on top. So that prevents us from having to exchange the baby’s blood. Because the machines are not enough, we keep having to exchange the blood of the baby and because we have one of the largest neonatal units, you will see us doing three, four transfusions. You know when you are putting blood you are also thinking about a whole lot of other problems like infections and some of the babies is actually a real challenging process,” she added.
Speaking to Good Health Weekly, LUTH’s Chairman Advisory Committee, CMAC, Professor Chris Bode said LUTH has the largest neonatal unit in West Africa with about 400 incubators.
“When babies are brought early and exposed to the light for a few days, it break down that chemicals into harmless substances, which, left untreated can adversely affect their brains and damage such babies, when they grow older, they will not be performing very well. Some of them become mentally sub normal. We are very grateful to the donors.”
Earlier, President of the Year Book Class, (YBC), Mr. Adedanda Ifade said donation of the machines, which cost over N400,000, was prompted by the need for such equipment in the department with a view to effectively manage the increasing incidences of neonatal jaundice in the hospital.