Reading Newborn jaundice, which develops many babies in the first days of life, also has a positive effect: the yellow bile pigment bilirubin protects the cells from free radicals, American scientists have found out. The excess of bilirubin, which turns the baby's skin and eyes yellow for a few days, gives the children protection against the aggressive molecules, says Solomon H. Snyder and his colleagues in the Proceedings journal of the American National Academy of Sciences ( advance online publication). Even in adults, there is a bilirubin cycle, which could play an important role in the protection of cells, the scientists suspect. In laboratory experiments, cells without this substance died when the researchers exposed them to aggressive hydrogen peroxide. However, bilirubin is toxic in high concentrations and can cause brain damage.

Bilirubin is formed during the breakdown of the red blood pigment hemoglobin. It is released in large quantities in patients with liver inflammation, which leads to the typical yellowing of the skin. However, these virus-induced hepatitis diseases have nothing to do with neonatal jaundice. It arises because the liver is not fully functional in the first days of life.

ddp / bdw - Ulrich Dewald

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