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No, pawpaw doesn’t cure jaundice in babies - go to hospital instead

Jaundice in babies can be cured with unripe pawpaw, claims a Facebook post shared in Nigeria in August 2020.

SAFE YOUR BABY FROM JAUNDICE,” it reads. “Get unripe pawpaw, peel it, remove the seeds, slice and soak in water for 12 hours. Pregnant women 100ml 3 times daily, give one teaspoon to a baby 3 times daily. Your baby’s eyes would clear in 3 to 5 days. It is also good for nursing mothers, it will help her baby.”

It adds: “Jaundice kills a baby a week after birth so it kills faster than Covid-19.”

Jaundice in newborns can cause their skin to take on a yellowish colour. A baby becomes jaundiced when the chemical bilirubin builds up in their blood. During pregnancy, the mother’s liver removes bilirubin for the baby. After birth, the baby’s liver must remove the bilirubin.

Not a scientifically proven cure

Dr Adeboye Muhammed, a consultant paediatrician at Nigeria’s University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, said there was no scientific evidence that raw pawpaw cured jaundice.

“[There’s] no scientific confirmation of the claim,” he said. “A baby with jaundice should be taken to a hospital early so that the level of jaundice in the blood can be tested and correct treatment offered.”

Dr Rotimi Adesanya, a family physician and primary care paediatrician, gave us advice on how mothers could prevent jaundice in their newborns.

“They should try as much as possible to avoid having preterm babies. Secondly, avoid infections. Don’t use some drugs a few days before delivery. Avoid getting malaria in the last few days of pregnancy.” 

Jaundice doesn’t kill faster than Covid-19

“Jaundice does not kill within one week neither does it kill faster than Covid-19,” Adesanya said.

“Jaundice is not a disease but a sign of mainly liver diseases and other ailments. Though neonatal jaundice (newborn jaundice) is classified as a disease.” – Motunrayo Joel


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