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A Ready Reckoner For Jaundice In Newborn Babies

December 4, 2023

Pregnancy and delivery are considered to be a major part of childbirth, but the real journey begins when the baby is born. Apart from checking for 10 little fingers and 10 little toes, there are several things about the baby that needs to be carefully monitored before the baby can be taken home.

While issues like being unable to latch or feed, or irregular sleep, one very common problem that many newborns face is jaundice. In this blog, we will help you understand what jaundice is, how can you determine if your newborn has jaundice and how you can manage it.

‍Book an appointment to consult Dr. Madhavi R for pediatric concerns.

Jaundice In Newborn Babies


Jaundice is a condition when there is a high level of bilirubin, a yellowish fluid found in bile. Usually, the excess bilirubin gets processed out, but because in newborns the diet pattern is still in formation, the excess fluid might get retained, causing a distinct yellow pigmentation on the skin and in the eyes.

Jaundice in newborns is quite common and generally gets fixed on its own as the baby’s liver begins to function better and the feeding helps dispel it through the intestinal tract. In an ideal situation, jaundice goes away in just about two to three weeks, but if it persists, it’s best to contact a pediatrician to check for other underlying causes, because prolonged jaundice might lead to other conditions like cerebral palsy or even deafness.

Most newborns are monitored for jaundice from the time they are born to the day of discharge, but it’s known that bilirubin levels usually peak from the third to seventh day of birth, so in case the discharge happens before that, the doctor will likely recommend the parents to visit during that phase also.

Causes For Jaundice In Newborns

There could be several reasons why a baby has jaundice at birth. Some of the reasons include:

  • Premature birth, because of which the liver isn’t fully functional, causing the build-up of bilirubin
  • A problem with the liver
  • Issues with the red blood cells
  • Irregular/insufficient feeding because of which the excess bilirubin is unable to be expelled
  • An enzyme deficiency
  • Incompatibility with the blood type of the mother, causing a rise in antibodies that destroy the baby’s red blood cells
  • Injuries during birth
  • Infections

How To Detect If Your Baby Has Jaundice

One of the telltale signs of jaundice is a distinct yellow pigmentation on the skin and in the whites of your baby’s eyes. Usually, jaundice develops within two to four days of birth, so watch out for any yellowness in your baby. Another way through which you can check is by pressing against your baby’s skin and checking if it leaves a yellow patch. If it does, it’s almost certainly a case of jaundice.

While we mentioned that jaundice generally goes away on its own, it’s essential to monitor your baby from time to time. Please do get in touch with your pediatrician immediately if one or more of the following happens:

Your Baby Feeds Poorly Or Shows No Interest In Feeding

  1. Your baby appears very lethargic
  2. If the pigmentation spreads across the body
  3. Your baby has a high fever
  4. Your baby makes high-pitched cries

These could be signs that the jaundice is intensifying and it requires immediate medical attention. The key is to pay attention to the little changes to your baby’s health so that you can seek help right away.

What To Do If Your Baby Has Jaundice?

  1. Your doctor will check your baby after birth and when he or she is just about a week old. Your doctor might also recommend a complete blood count, testing their blood type and Rh compatibility to rule out any underlying cause. If the jaundice is severe, doctors also recommend the use of phototherapy, where your baby will be exposed to blue light while wearing his or her nappies and protective goggles. This is done to break down the bilirubin in their bodies.
  2. However, these measures are only taken if the jaundice is severe. The most common approach to jaundice in newborn babies is to ask the mother to feed the baby regularly so that the excess bilirubin gets processed and passed out through the intestines and in most cases, this is enough to get rid of it.

In extreme cases where the doctors foresee considerable harm, they might ask for an exchange transfusion in which the baby receives small amounts of blood to replace the damaged red blood cells with healthy ones so that the bilirubin is flushed out.

While there is no known way to prevent jaundice in newborn babies, the key is to feed your baby regularly and keep monitoring them so that in case of any changes, immediate medical help can be sought.

Want to consult the Best Pediatricians in India? Please find the links below.

  1. ‍Best Pediatricians in Bangalore
  2. Best Pediatricians in Chandigarh
  3. Best Pediatricians in Chennai
  4. Best Pediatricians in Faridabad
  5. Best Pediatricians in Gurugram
  6. Best Pediatricians in Hyderabad
  7. Best Pediatricians in Ludhiana
  8. Best Pediatricians in Mumbai
  9. Best Pediatricians in Noida
  10. Best Pediatricians in Pune
  11. Best Pediatricians in Panchkula
  12. Best Pediatricians in New Delhi
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