Donor contributions to the foundation’s Women & Children’s Care Fund recently made an impact, providing for two biliblankets for Longs Peak Hospital’s special care nursery. These blankets provide phototherapy to treat babies who have jaundice.
Jaundice can occur when babies have a high level of bilirubin, a yellow pigment produced during normal breakdown of red blood cells. In older babies and adults, the liver processes bilirubin, which then passes it through the intestinal tract. However, a newborn’s still-developing liver may not be mature enough to remove bilirubin, especially in premature babies.
Some cases of jaundice resolve within a week or two without treatment. Other cases require treatment because of the severity of the jaundice, the cause of the jaundice, or how old the baby is when jaundice appears. The most common treatment for jaundice is phototherapy—the use of light to eliminate bilirubin in the blood. Before the biliblankets were purchased for Longs Peak Hospital, phototherapy in the special care nursery required that the infant be in a bili-bed. The new blankets mean treatment can be provided out of the bed so the newborn can be hugged and rocked.
Human touch from parents is especially important in the early days of a newborn’s life. The biliblankets—purchased through donor generosity—help make that essential touch possible.