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Dr. Andrew Rynne

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Baby has coffee stain on back. Has jaundice. What could this be?

Answered by
Dr. Yogesh D

General & Family Physician

Practicing since :2009

Answered : 685 Questions

Posted on Sun, 17 Nov 2013 in Child Health
Question: My grandaughter was born 3 and a half weeks early she is a mixed baby -she has a coffee stain on her back just like her Mom but the doctor says he thinks it might be something else so he has ordered an ultrasound - what could he be looking for -She is also a little jaundiced
Answered by Dr. Yogesh D 28 minutes later
Brief Answer:
Doctor is making sure that her brain is perfect.

Detailed Answer:

Thanks for posting this question. I am a trained neonatologist, hence I take this opportunity to help you.

What you rightly call coffee stain, we call it Café au lait spot, which is a french word but means the same thing essentially.

These are very common in newborn babies and generally may disappear over time.

They can be hereditary, and familial, that is if any of the parents have it, there are chances that their babies could have them too.

In most cases they don't mean much.

But in some cases, they might be an indicator of certain types of brain and nervous system problems such as neurofibromatosis type 1, McCune-Albright Syndrome, Legius syndrome, Ataxia telangiectasia and other many syndromes which may or may not be related to nervous system.

The mere presence of these spots is not diagnostic of any particular condition, so please relax.

Ultrasound in neonates is generally a brain Ultrasound scan.

Premature babies do develop noticeable jaundice by 3 to 5 days, if it is pronounced then she would need phtotherapy or other measures as appropriate, depending on the exact measurements of the bilirubin levels and her body weight and her gestational age.

I am sure her doctor is doing the right thing, you can remind him to send the blood for bilirubin level estimation every 8 hours to see how it goes.

Jaundice in neonates is normal unless it crosses 15mg/dl, or sets in within first 24 hours of birth.

Please follow that up with the doctor.

I hope I have addressed your concern fully. Please do write back if you have further queries or if you need any clarification.

And congratulations to you, your daughter and family and your granddaughter.

I hope she will have a fantastic life.

Warm regards,
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar

The User accepted the expert's answer

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