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Natural Birth & Parenting Natural Birth & Parenting

Bilirubin as an Antioxidant (PIOG)

Posted by on Nov. 19, 2010 at 10:41 PM
  • 5 Replies

Contrary to what you often will hear about how bilirubin levels increasing in a newborn is not a good thing, there is new research which is showing the importance of the presence of bilirubin.

Bilirubin has the ability to function as an antioxidant in the brain, scavenging free radicals and protecting the brain against oxidative damage.

“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.”

Dr. Dore has done research on the neuroprotective effect of bilirubin in the hippocampus. His studies have indicated that low concentrations of bilirubin decreased oxygen-radical mediated injury, suggesting that bilirubin could act as an antioxidant.

Dore further experimented on cultured neurons showing that bilirubin protects against oxidative stress. The enzyme hemeoxygenase is responsible for making bilirubin. In these experiments researchers prevented bilirubin synthesis by eliminating the gene for hemeoxygenase and found, as a result, twice the level of stroke damage in mice.

There is also some belief amongst medical professionals that bilirubin is a bacteriostatic compound which acts to slow or eliminate bacterial growth and therefore give an advantage to babies with higher levels of jaundice. This theory would contribute to the fewer infections in breastfed babies, whose bili counts often descend at a slower rate.

These studies shed new light on the way in which bilirubin in a newborn should be viewed. There is no reason to overreact to bili counts ranging up to low 20′s as long as the mother is frequently nursing (every 60 – 90 minutes during the mother’s waking hours and no more than two stretches of four hours maximum at night), baby is wetting and the counts have begun to slow in ascension or have begun their descent.

Mother must be diligent at following a pattern of frequent nursing until jaundice is gone, even if it includes having to wake the baby, because jaundice tends to make a baby sleepy.

by on Nov. 19, 2010 at 10:41 PM
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Replies (1-5):
Roadfamily6now
by on Nov. 20, 2010 at 12:18 AM

During a workshop I attended with Anna Verwaal, she mentioned something about jaundice as well. In those areas of the world where Malaria is a threat, babies are almost always jaundiced and they found that the excess bilirubin make those babies immune to malaria.  Over the centuries, the people from this area of the world have carried this trait on  and you will find that many people today in the US that have an ethnic background from these regions, will have very jaundiced babies.

DixieFlower
by on Nov. 28, 2010 at 10:26 PM

BUMP!

Roadfamily6now
by on Nov. 30, 2010 at 1:31 AM

bump

JasonsMom2007
by on Nov. 30, 2010 at 1:34 AM
Sure didn't work for my kids. Ds' levels got up to 27 and he is always sick. Dd's levels got to 2 and she is never sick
Both are/were ebf
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DixieFlower
by on Dec. 5, 2010 at 8:45 PM

The article just says it gives them an advantage. This is similar to the breastfed/formula fed baby argument. Lots of mom's who formula feed will say that their formula fed children are sick less often than some breastfed children they know. However, most people know that breastfeeding gives a child a significant advantage of antibody protection.

Quoting JasonsMom2007:

Sure didn't work for my kids. Ds' levels got up to 27 and he is always sick. Dd's levels got to 2 and she is never sick
Both are/were ebf


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