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Jaundice in Newborns (Hyperbilirubinemia) - Topic Overview

How is it treated?

Your baby will need treatment if the bilirubin level is above the normal range for newborns. He or she will be put under a type of fluorescent light to treat the jaundice. This is called phototherapy camera.gif. The skin absorbs the light, which changes the bilirubin so that the body can more easily get rid of it. The treatment is usually done in a hospital. But babies sometimes are treated at home.

Don't try to treat jaundice by placing your baby in the sun or near a window. Special lights and controlled surroundings are always needed to treat jaundice safely.

If a health problem caused the jaundice, your baby may need other treatment. For example, a baby with severe jaundice caused by Rh incompatibility may need a blood transfusion.

How can you help your baby?

If your baby has jaundice, you have an important role to play.

  • Look closely at your baby's skin 2 times a day to make sure that the color is returning to normal. If your baby has dark skin, look at the white part of the eyes.
  • Take your baby for any follow-up testing your doctor recommends.
  • Call the doctor if the yellow color gets brighter after your baby is 3 days old.

The best thing you can do to reduce jaundice is to make sure that your baby gets enough to eat. That will help your baby's body get rid of the extra bilirubin.

  • If you are breast-feeding, feed your baby about 8 to 12 times every 24 hours.
  • If you are feeding your baby from a bottle, stay on your schedule (usually about 6 to 10 feedings every 24 hours).

If you aren't sure that your baby is getting enough milk, ask your doctor, a nurse, or a lactation consultant for help.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: April 19, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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