Jaundice is a medical condition that can occur in babies, children and even adults.
However, we most frequently get questions about jaundice from new parents who are concerned with what it means for their newborns.
What is Jaundice?
Jaundice is a medical condition characterized by the yellow coloring of a newborn’s skin that typically shows up on the second or third day of life. Your baby is tested for this condition while you are both still in the hospital.
What Causes Jaundice?
Jaundice occurs when there is too much bilirubin, a chemical that is made when red blood cells are broken down. It is common for newborns to have elevated levels of bilirubin, because they have more red blood cells and it takes time for their liver to get better at removing bilirubin.
Should I Be Concerned About Jaundice?
It is important that parents know that jaundice in itself is not an illness, and for most babies it is harmless and temporary.
In very rare cases, if the bilirubin levels get high enough it can cause brain damage. This is why bilirubin levels are routinely checked before leaving the hospital, or sooner if there are concerns.
How to Get Rid of Jaundice?
Most jaundice goes away on its own. When treatment is necessary, it is started at bilirubin levels much lower than those in which there is a concern for brain damage.
In some cases, your doctor may even place your newborn under a special blue light to help remove bilirubin from their body.
Jaundice usually peaks between 3 and 5 days of life, so it is important to have a follow up visit with your pediatrician within the first 2 – 3 days after discharge.
Contact your pediatrician today to learn more about how jaundice may affect your newborn.