There is some very important information that must be shared on the topic of infant jaundice. Jaundice is not actually something we should be so worried about or do things like switch to formula.
Did you know that bilirubin is a powerful antioxidant?
In a lecture, Dr. Suzanne Humprhies discusses how bilirubin is second only to Vitamin C in its power as an antioxidant. An infant's production of bilirubin is an antioxidant response. This is the body's natural design working to maintain homeostasis.
Bilirubin has the ability to function as an antioxidant in the brain, scavenging free radicals and protecting the brain against oxidative damage.
In research, they found that bilirubin levels are high in babies with low Vitamin C and bilirubin levels are low in babies with high Vitamin C.
Production of bilirubin is not necessary if Vitamin C is high enough.
Bilirubin lights only satisfies a doctor's concern of the risk for encephalitis (of which can happen with low bilirubin levels as well) but does not address the oxidative sress or other reason for high bilirubin.
Vitamin C can provide the body with antioxidants in place of bilirubin if/when needed. A plain ascorbic acid powder is perfectly safe for infants.
Should breastfeeding moms switch their babies to formula while they are jaundiced?
“When women breastfeed, the babies have higher levels of bilirubin and are healthier. Babies with higher bilirubin levels are more disease-resistant,” said Dr. Sylvain Dore of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland. “Bilirubin also protects against retinopathy in premature babies.”
As long as the infant is gaining weight, the urine is clear (not dark), and the bowels are colored normally (not pale), jaundice is generally not of any concern.
Vitamin C as mentioned above may still be given to help provide the body with additional antioxidants. (A pinch in the baby's mouth before nursing a few times a day is generally sufficient.)
For Dr. Humphries' full lecture (Portion on bilirubin is about 30 mins in):