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Jaundiced Newborn

Jaundice and Bilirubin

  • Jaundice means the skin has turned yellow.
  • Bilirubin is the pigment that turns the skin yellow.
  • Bilirubin comes from the normal breakdown of old red blood cells.
  • The liver normally gets rid of bilirubin. But, at birth, the liver may be immature.
  • Half of babies have some jaundice. Usually it is mild.
  • The level of bilirubin that is harmful is around 20. Reaching a level this high is rare.
  • High levels need to be treated with bili-lights. That's why your doctor checks your baby's bilirubin levels until it becomes low.

Causes of Jaundice in Newborns

Physiological Jaundice (50% of newborns)

  • Onset 2 to 3 days of age
  • Peaks day 4 to 5, then improves
  • Disappears 1 to 2 weeks of age

Breastfeeding or Malnutrition Jaundice (5 to 10% of newborns)

  • Due to inadequate intake of breastmilk
  • Onset pattern similar to physiological type
  • Also, causes poor weight gain
  • Needs close follow-up and weight checks

Breastmilk Jaundice (10% of newborns)

  • Due to substance in breastmilk which blocks removal of bilirubin
  • Breastmilk intake and weight gain are normal
  • Onset 4 to 7 days of age
  • Lasts 3 to 12 weeks
  • Not harmful

Rh and ABO Blood Group Incompatibility (Serious, but Rare)

  • Onset during first 24 hours of life
  • Can reach harmful levels

Liver Disease (Serious, but Rare)

  • The main clue is light gray or pale yellow stools
  • The jaundice doesn't go away
  • Causes include liver infection (hepatitis) and liver blockage (biliary atresia)

Is this your child's symptom?

  • Jaundice (yellow skin) in a baby during the first 3 months of life (90 days)
  • The skin turns a yellow color from high bilirubin levels in the blood