Not eating for a long period (fasting), which normally
increases indirect bilirubin levels.
What To Think About
A common cause of
jaundice in newborns is a condition called physiologic
jaundice. It occurs in healthy babies when they are 1 to 3 days old for several
reasons, including the increased breakdown of red blood cells right after
birth. It usually disappears on its own within a week without causing problems.
But in some cases, a baby with physiologic jaundice may need treatment
with special lights (phototherapy) to prevent serious
A premature baby's liver is immature and may not be able to break down
bilirubin properly in the blood. This is one of the reasons premature babies
are more likely than full-term babies to develop jaundice.
Bilirubin can be measured in amniotic fluid if your
doctor thinks that your unborn baby may have a condition that destroys red
blood cells (erythroblastosis fetalis). For more information, see the topic
Bilirubin may also be measured in the urine. Normally, urine does
not contain any bilirubin. If bilirubin is detected in urine, additional
testing may be needed to determine the cause. High amounts of bilirubin in
urine may indicate that the bilirubin is not being removed from the body by the
Using a transcutaneous bilirubin test, doctors can screen
all newborns for jaundice. They place a device gently against the skin to check
bilirubin levels before a baby goes home from the hospital.
Other Works Consulted
Fischbach FT, Dunning MB III, eds. (2009).
Manual of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests, 8th ed.
Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
Pagana KD, Pagana TJ (2010). Mosby?s Manual of Diagnostic and Laboratory Tests, 4th ed. St. Louis: Mosby Elsevier.
Primary Medical Reviewer
John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Specialist Medical Reviewer
Thomas Emmett Francoeur, MD, MDCM, CSPQ, FRCPC - Pediatrics