Infant Jaundice

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Infant jaundice refers to a condition in which a newborn baby’s skin and eyes appear to be yellow. This condition takes place due to a yellow-colored pigment called bilirubin, being in excess in the red blood cells.

Infant jaundice occurs commonly in babies who are born 38 weeks before gestation and also in breast-fed infants.

Infant jaundice often occurs because an infant’s liver has not developed well enough to remove bilirubin from the bloodstream. However, sometimes an underlying condition can also bring rise to jaundice in babies.

Treatment is often unnecessary for jaundice. However, if treatment is necessary, noninvasive therapy will work most effectively. Complications rarely occur, however, they may include brain damage in case of poorly treated or severe infant jaundice.

Signs and symptoms

Signs and symptoms usually begin to appear in the within the first two to four days after birth. Signs and symptoms of infant jaundice may include:

  • Yellow discoloration of the skin
  • Yellow discoloration of the eyes

You can check for jaundice in your infant by pressing your finger against your child’s forehead or nose. If the skin appears to be yellow when you press it, your baby most likely has jaundice. If the child does not have jaundice, the skin will be lighter than the normal color. You can also check your baby in natural daylight for any discolorations.


Mild cases of infant jaundice often go away on their won within two to three weeks. If your child has moderate to severe infant jaundice, the baby may have to be kept longer in the newborn nursery, or be admitted in the hospital again, depending on the severity of the condition.

For low levels of bilirubin that causes infant jaundice, treatment methods include:

  • Light therapy
  • Intravenous immunoglobin
  • Exchange blood transfusion

If infant jaundice is not severe, you may be advised by your doctor to make some feeding changes in order to lower bilirubin levels. Let your doctor know about how often and how much your baby is feeding and also if you are facing problems breast-feeding your baby.

The following homecare steps may allow you to resolve symptoms of jaundice:

  • Give your baby more frequent feedings. This will enhance bowel movements and increase the bilirubin that is being removed from the baby’s body. For breast-fed infants, eight to twelve feedings per day for the first many days may be recommended. Formula-fed infants will be required to have 1 to 2 ounces of the formula for every two to three hours a day for the first week.
  • Supplemental feedings for your baby. For babies that are having trouble breast-feeding, or babies that are dehydrated or losing weight, the doctor may recommend giving the baby formula milk as well. Sometimes, you may also be told to pause breast-feeding for a couple of days and give formula milk. Make sure you consult your doctor about what method is ideal for your baby.

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