A CHILDREN’S charity has launched its Christmas appeal in support of the Sussex Community Midwife Team.

The charity is raising funds for bilirubin monitors to help midwives detect jaundice in newborn babies during home visits.

They will be used by a team of 75 community midwives at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton and the Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath.

Between them they cover 500 square miles throughout Sussex, visiting GP surgeries and children’s centres as well as looking after 6,000 mums and babies every year throughout their pregnancies and births.

One of the most serious conditions that the community midwives look out for in newborns is jaundice.

This is a build up of bilirubin, a waste product created by excess red blood cells breaking down in the body, and if left untreated, can cause organ failure and brain damage.

Jaundice can be very common in the first few days of life as a baby’s system adapts to life outside of the womb.

Early treatment can make all the difference so Rockinghorse is aiming to provide bilirubin monitors to detect jaundice during home visits.

Kelly Parker, Community Midwifery Manager at the Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust, says: “If a community midwife or support worker suspects jaundice, our current course of action is to refer the baby immediately to A&E for assessment.

“This is often a day or two after the family have been discharged from hospital.

“The baby will have a simple meter reading test to measure bilirubin levels in the blood.

“While some babies are admitted for further treatment, the vast majority of newborns will have a normal reading and be sent home.

“However, the whole experience may have exposed mum and baby to a risk of infections and possibly a long wait for a simple procedure.

“My team carry out 40-60 home visits every day across the county, and due to how common mild jaundice is, a lot of babies are being referred to hospital for a bilirubin test.

“Any suspected case must be checked in the hospital and this has led to a growing frustration from community midwives who cannot carry out the jaundice check.

“I would love my team to have the opportunity to improve the post-natal care we offer to mums and babies.”