Infant jaundice is a yellow discoloration in a newborn baby's skin and eyes. Infant jaundice occurs because the baby's blood contains an excess of bilirubin (bil-ih-ROO-bin), a yellow-colored pigment of red blood cells.
Infant jaundice is a common condition, particularly in babies born before 38 weeks gestation (preterm babies) and some breast-fed babies. Infant jaundice usually occurs because a baby's liver isn't mature enough to get rid of bilirubin in the bloodstream. In some cases, an underlying disease may cause jaundice.
Treatment of infant jaundice often isn't necessary, and most cases that need treatment respond well to noninvasive therapy. Although complications are rare, a high bilirubin level associated with severe infant jaundice or inadequately treated jaundice may cause brain damage.
April 03, 2014
- Wong RJ, et al. Clinical manifestations of unconjugated hyperbilirubinemia in term and late preterm infants. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Nov. 7, 2013.
- Management of hyperbilirubinemia in the newborn infant 35 or more weeks of gestation. American Academy of Pediatrics Policy. http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/114/1/297.full.html. Accessed Nov. 7, 2013.
- Hay WW, et al. Current Diagnosis & Treatment: Pediatrics. 21st ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com /resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=14. Accessed Nov. 7, 2013.
- Wong RJ, et al. Evaluation of unconjugated hyperbilirubinemia in term and late preterm infants. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Nov. 7, 2013.