New devices to test tots for jaundice at birth

Tests: Penny Mercer from Leyland with her son Matthew
Tests: Penny Mercer from Leyland with her son Matthew
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Newborn babies will be tested for jaundice with a new device which will mean no distress and speedier diagnosis.

The latest technology will be introduced at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and the new devices will provide an immediate result of jaundice simply by passing a light over the baby’s body.

Until now, newborn babies have been tested for jaundice either by looking at the baby’s skin or by using a heel-prick test which may cause some distress to the baby and needs to be sent to a laboratory for analysis.

The new jaundice devices have been funded by the Baby Beat Appeal, which aims to maintain and raise standards in preventative care and foetal well being at Royal Preston Hospital’s maternity unit.

Newborn jaundice occurs when a baby has high levels of bilirubin in the blood. Bilirubin is a yellow substance that the body creates when it replaces old red blood cells and high levels of bilirubin makes a baby’s skin and the whites of their eyes look yellow.

Usually newborn jaundice is not harmful and for most babies, jaundice gets better without treatment within a couple of weeks.

Dr Salehuddin Samsudin, consultant neonatologist, said: “These new devices will enable us to accurately identify jaundice without causing any distress to baby.

“They will also enable early diagnosis and treatment and help us to prevent babies being admitted to hospital unnecessarily.”

Penny Mercer, from Leyland, who has newborn baby Matthew, said: ”I think this new way of jaundice testing will be brilliant.

“Matthew has needed a few heel prick tests and it’s horrible seeing him upset and crying. Babies don’t understand what’s happening, so this will make it so much easier for them.”

Karen Entwistle, Baby Beat Appeal Manager, said: ”I am delighted Baby Beat has been able to provide £30,000 to enable the trust to invest in 10 jaundice testing devices.”

Sean Hughes, medical director, said: “These new devices will give our clinicians access to the very best technology available for the diagnosis of jaundice.

“Babies born at Royal Preston Hospital will now be able to be tested for jaundice without a heel prick test.”