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Jaundice in Newborn Babies

Updated on July 20, 2011

Baby jaundice

Jaundice in newborn babies is not too uncommon. About 20% of newborns suffer from jaundice. Jaundice is the yellowish staining of the skin and eyes that is caused by high levels in blood of the chemical bilirubin.The color of the skin and eyes vary depending on the level of bilirubin. It may take about a week for the liver to break the bilirubin that may be in excess in some newborn babies. Don't worry - your baby will suffer no pain or discomfort as a result of having jaundice.

Newborn babies have additional red blood cells reserved for the birth process. One of the breakdown products of red blood cells is bilirubin. The liver in the newborn is fully developed, but not 100 percent efficient. Extra bilirubin is transferred to the blood and stored in the skin until the liver breaks it down.This is called physiological jaundice in newborns.

Physiological jaundice is not harmful and will usually respond without any medical treatment. This may last up to one week. There are other cases of jaundice that may call for specialized treatment.

Symptoms of Jaundice in newborn babies:

Yellowing of the skin and eyes is one of the important symptoms of jaundice in newborn babies. If the color of the stool of a newborn is yellowy brown or pale, a parent should contact with a doctor immediately because it is also a typical symptom of jaundice. Everyone knows that the urine of a newborn should be colorless but if the color of urine is yellow, it can be a symptom of jaundice. If a newborn is affected by this disease, she would be sleeping most of the time. A mother may might have face some difficulties while feeding her baby if she is affected by jaundice.

Diagnosis of jaundice in newborn babies:

Blood test will be done to check how much bilirubin is in your baby's blood. Other tests may be done if your baby's health care provider thinks that other problems may be causing the jaundice. It is always important to take your infant to the doctor if you suspect jaundice, even though most cases resolve themselves within one to two weeks. Some babies, however, need treatment to improve the condition.

Treatment of jaundice in newborn babies:

Most of the time no treatment is needed for jaundice, because it usually goes away on its own. If you are breastfeeding, you may be able to help reduce the jaundice by feeding your baby 10 times a day.

The treatment is varied depending on its undelying cause and severity of jaundice. Phototherapy is used widely to treat infants. Baby's eyes are covered and their skin is exposed to special fluorescent lights that lower the bilirubin buildup.


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    • theactionnurse profile image


      8 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      very nice explanation of jaundice. Easy to understand and to the point. Great job.

    • profile image

      Susan S. Omalay 

      8 years ago

      I also have a jaundice and my 3 brothers...It is a congenital case. Until now we still have a yellow eyes.(The white part of the eyes)...

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      my baby, who is two months old, i kept shedding tears to see him under the flourescent lights to lower down his jaundice. his jaundice is very serious. tomorrow he had to go back to the hospital. he is sleeping now, shh!

    • Cherish77 profile image


      9 years ago

      This would have been greta when my son was born, he had Juandice after he was born, they made me rent a bili blanket for 2 weeks.


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