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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
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
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