INFANT JAUNDICE

MINISTER’S STATEMENT: INFANT JAUNDICE

I rise to update the house on how the Andrews Labor government’s investment in innovative programs in Victoria is allowing new mums and bubs to bond and have the best start to life. Last week I had the pleasure of visiting the Royal Women’s Hospital and meeting mum Janelle, dad Jack and baby Jasper to see the success of a $434 000 pioneering program that enables jaundiced newborns to be cared for at home. Infant jaundice affects about 60 per cent of healthy newborn babies. Often it will resolve itself within a week or so, but if it is left untreated, infant jaundice may lead to very severe outcomes and can in fact be life-threatening. Prior to the program, jaundiced babies were referred to the emergency department for blood tests, and if treatment was required, mothers and babies would have to be admitted as inpatients. Through this innovative program midwives and all nurses can now administer blood tests in the home to screen for jaundice, and more than 2000 blood tests have been delivered in the home since this program was introduced. If an infant requires treatment, phototherapy blankets can now also be provided in the home, enabling mum to continue to breastfeed and look after her baby in the home. This is a much less disruptive approach to supporting new parents and bubs, particularly in those precious first few days. And since the program began in 2017 there has in fact been a 53 per cent decrease in the number of jaundiced babies presenting to the emergency department at the Royal Women’s Hospital. I take this opportunity to thank the dedicated staff at the Royal Women’s, who do an amazing job supporting families and their newborn babies every day. This is an important program and a great example of Victoria’s continued investment in innovation—finding new and more effective ways to treat more patients sooner and particularly also supporting patients to receive the critical care that they need in the home.