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You are here: Home arrow News arrow October 2007 arrow Nappy know-how could save babies
Nappy know-how could save babies Print

October 2007

Parents need to be on the look-out for the signs of potentially life-threatening liver diseases when changing their baby?s nappy, a national children's charity urges today.

Delays in spotting these signs and getting early treatment can lead to the need for a liver transplant at a young age and could ultimately cost them their baby?s life.

The Yellow Alert campaign, launched by Children?s Liver Disease Foundation (CLDF), is aimed at community healthcare professionals and parents and spells out the warning signs of liver disease in newly born babies.

The key signs are prolonged jaundice, lasting beyond two weeks after birth, pale stools and/or yellow urine (it should be colourless). Any of these must be reported to the midwife, health visitor or GP and a special blood test called a split bilirubin test must be done to rule out liver disease.

Catherine Arkley, Chief Executive at CLDF, says: ?At least one baby is born with liver disease every day in the UK but we have no way of telling which baby will be affected.

"There is no specific group at risk of liver disease. It could strike any family, anytime, so it is important that everyone remains alert to the signs, which are easy to spot.

"That is why we are launching Yellow Alert, which clearly tells parents and community health practitioners about the signs and what they should do.?

Arkley continues: ?For more than 25 years we have been supporting families devastated by their child?s death or their need for a liver transplant at a young age due to late diagnosis of liver disease.

"This is a human tragedy. In the early stages of liver disease a baby can look and feed entirely well, which can be misleading for everyone.

"Checking nappies for the warning signs and responding to prolonged jaundice may prevent the human cost we deal with, day in, day out.

?As a guide, parents should know that a healthy newborn?s urine is usually colourless whereas the stool colour should be English mustard yellow or green in bottle fed babies and daffodil yellow or green in breast fed babies.?

Early action is crucial Emma Browne, whose daughter Ellie was diagnosed with the lethal liver disease, biliary atresia, recounts: ?It was heart breaking to find out that Ellie had liver disease and needed a liver transplant at only five-and-a-half months old. What made the situation worse was that the transplant might have been avoided.?

Emma continues: ?Ellie?s prolonged jaundice was missed as a sign of possible liver disease by our health visitor, midwife and GP. It was only when Ellie was three months old that my GP then realised it could be something more serious than breast-milk jaundice.

"By this point, Ellie?s liver was so badly damaged that a transplant was the only option.?

Mark Davenport, consultant paediatric liver surgeon at King?s College Hospital, London, reinforces the importance of early diagnosis: ?The earlier a diagnosis is made, the less damage will have occurred in the liver and the higher the chances of sparing the child from a liver transplant at a young age.

"Time is of the essence when dealing with a condition like biliary atresia. I urge parents to speak to their health visitor, midwife or doctor if they spot any of the warning signs described by the Yellow Alert campaign.?

 
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