What to Know About Newborn Jaundice

Babygraphy • 01 Oct 2020

Does your baby have jaundice? Not to worry, as it is a very common thing. It happens when babies have a high level of a yellow pigment known as bilirubin which is created during normal red blood cell breakdown.

As new parents tend to worry most, it should bring you comfort to know that jaundice for newborns tends to go away on its own. Your baby’s liver will develop more with every feeding which will help this pigment pass through the body. It generally takes about 2 to 3 weeks.

Some Newborns are More at Risk for Jaundice

Before you get discharged from the hospital with your newborn in the first 3 to 5 days, the staff there will check your baby for jaundice. Generally, babies that are born before the 37th week and are premature are the most at risk.

Other common reasons your newborn might have jaundice is that he or she might not be getting enough breastmilk or formula. Sometimes the flow of milk or the latch on the breast might impede proper feeding so it’s always important to get that proper lock on to help prevent the onset of jaundice.

Newborns that have a blood type that isn’t compatible with their mom tend to wind up with jaundice too. The antibodies can build up and destroy red blood cells, causing a rapid rise in that yellow pigment. Additionally, an infection, enzyme deficiency, blood cell abnormality in your baby, or any internal bleeding may cause jaundice in your newborn.

As mentioned, it should go away on its own but if it lasts longer than that, it could be a sign of an underlying condition. These high bilirubin levels can potentially lead to deafness or brain damage which is why it’s so important for your pediatrician to check for jaundice.

How to Spot Jaundice in Your Newborn

While holding your new baby, take a look at the eyes and skin. If your baby has jaundice, these things will yellow between 2 and 4 days after birth. It generally will start in the face. You can do a small test with your finger to see. Gently press your baby’s skin and if that area becomes yellow, you may be dealing with jaundice. There’s no need to panic as the doctors and nurses will run all the necessary checks.

But what if you’re already home? How do you know when to call the doctor or if you’re just panicking? Again, it helps to remain calm and remember that jaundice is very common. But if other symptoms appear with it, you’ll want to call the doctor.

If you see the jaundice spread to other areas or it looks worse, a fever over 100F develops, the yellow color gets deeper, or your baby has changes in behavior, it’s important to get things checked out. Those jaundice behavioral changes can include poor feeding, listlessness, and high-pitched cries.

Should your newborn have jaundice, your doctor can help get everything back to normal again. Knowing what to look for should put your mind at ease and let you enjoy being a new parent!

  • * This article is not done by medical professionals. Please seek professional advice when problem arises.


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