Newborn jaundice

Alternative Names

Jaundice of the newborn; Neonatal hyperbilirubinemia; Bili lights – jaundice

Definition of Newborn jaundice

Newborn jaundice is a condition marked by high levels of bilirubin in the blood. The increased bilirubin causes the infant’s skin and whites of the eyes (sclera) to look yellow.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Bilirubin is a yellow pigment that is created in the body during the normal recycling of old red blood cells. The liver helps break down bilirubin so that it can be removed from the body in the stool.

Symptoms

The main symptom is a yellow color of the skin. The yellow color is best seen right after gently pressing a finger onto the skin. The color sometimes begins on the face and then moves down to the chest, belly area, legs, and soles of the feet.

Signs and tests

Doctors, nurses, and family members will watch for signs of jaundice at the hospital, and after the newborn goes home.

Treatment

Treatment is usually not needed.

Expectations (prognosis)

Usually newborn jaundice is not harmful. For most babies, jaundice usually gets better without treatment within 1 to 2 weeks.

Review

Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 11/12/2010

Erythroblastosis fetalis, photomicrograph
Jaundice infant
Exchange transfusion  - series

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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