Major risk factors for jaundice, particularly severe jaundice that can cause complications, include:

  • Premature birth. A baby born before 38 weeks may not be able to process bilirubin as quickly as full-term babies do. Also, he or she may feed less and have fewer bowel movements, resulting in less bilirubin eliminated through stool.
  • Significant bruising during birth. If your newborn gets bruises from the delivery, he or she may have a higher level of bilirubin from the breakdown of more red blood cells.
  • Blood type. If the mother's blood type is different from her baby's, the baby may have received antibodies through the placenta that cause his or her blood cells to break down more quickly.
  • Breast-feeding. Breast-fed babies, particularly those who have difficulty nursing or getting enough nutrition from breast-feeding, are at higher risk of jaundice. Dehydration or a low calorie intake may contribute to the onset of jaundice. However, because of the benefits of breast-feeding, experts still recommend it. It's important to make sure your baby gets enough to eat and is adequately hydrated.
Apr. 03, 2014

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