Jaundice in newborns: A concern or a common thing?

Well, jaundice is particularly common in newborns.  Jaundice leads to yellow discoloration of a newborn baby’s skin and eyes.

What is jaundice and how it is caused?

Jaundice happens when there is too much bilirubin in the baby’s blood. Bilirubin is a yellow pigment of red blood cells. A newborn baby’s liver does not remove bilirubin as well as an adult’s does, which leads to jaundice.

Signs and symptoms of jaundice

The most pervasive sign of infant jaundice is yellow skin and the eyes. This typically starts at the head and spreads to the chest, stomach, arms, and legs. Other symptoms include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Pale stools
  • Poor feeding
  • Dark urine
  • Yellow abdomen or limbs
  • Inability to gain weight
  • Irritability


Typically, treatment for mild jaundice in infants is unnecessary, as it tends to disappear on its own within 2 weeks. In case of severe jaundice, the following treatments are suggested.

  • Phototherapy (light therapy) – treatment by light rays. The baby is put under a special light, covered by a plastic shield to filter out ultraviolet light. The light manipulates the structure of bilirubin molecules so they can be excreted.
  • Exchange blood transfusion – the baby’s blood is repeatedly withdrawn and then replaced with donor blood.
  • Intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg) – In this process, the baby is infused with a protein in the blood that lowers the levels of antibodies from the mother, which are attacking the infant’s red blood cells.

Preventive Methods

The best preventive of jaundice in newborns is by adequate feeding.

*It is advised to see a doctor if the baby has jaundice that isn’t going away. Babies with jaundice for longer than 2 weeks need more testing to check for other things that cause jaundice.

Sources: Kidshealth.org

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