Assumption: The newborn body cannot cope with high levels of bilirubin and those who become jaundiced must be treated.
Apparently, many studies have sought to determine whether bilirubin is a good thing or a bad thing. This article pulls the studies together and comes to a couple of conclusions: (1) Bilirubin definitely has positive properties- mainly as an antioxident, but (2) bilirubin that is out of control can be very dangerous to the newborn brain.
After my last post, I began to wonder, WHY do so many newborns (60% full-term and 80% of premature infants) become jaundiced if it is such a terrible thing? Why is this such a naturally and normally occurring phenomenon? The good news is that bilirubin is an antioxident that has proven to help infants is several ways (see the article for specifics), including protecting the body from toxins. The bad news is that if the bilirubin numbers become too high, brain damage can occur. So, it is still wise to treat jaundice and to keep track of levels. What levels are acceptable and what levels need to be treated are under some debate in the medical community. I’m just glad to know that there is a natural purpose to the jaundice itself and that 60-80% of our babies aren’t just born “out of whack.”