Jaundice in Newborns (Hyperbilirubinemia) - Exams and Tests
Your baby's doctor will do a physical
exam and take a medical history to diagnose
jaundice. As part of the medical history, the doctor
may ask questions about:
- Your general health, particularly during the
- Whether your baby was born prematurely or at full
- Whether your baby had any difficulties during
- Your baby's birth weight and whether there has been any
weight gain or loss since birth.
- Your baby's feeding and
elimination habits since birth.
- Whether the baby and you have
blood types (ABO or
- Your family history
of health conditions that could cause jaundice.
During the exam, the doctor will check your baby's skin
color. This may include pressing a finger lightly on your baby's skin. The
doctor will note whether yellowing related to jaundice is visible only in the
eyes, face, and head or if it is also noticed on the chest and lower body. He
or she may also look for signs of
underlying conditions that can cause jaundice.
A transcutaneous jaundice meter may be used to measure your baby's
bilirubin level. If the results are concerning, a
bilirubin test may be done to more precisely measure
the bilirubin level in your baby's blood. The results will help your baby's
doctor decide whether treatment is needed.
If the doctor thinks
that another condition is causing your baby to have too much bilirubin in the
blood (hyperbilirubinemia), more tests may be done. For example, the doctor may
blood type tests if the cause of hyperbilirubinemia
could be that you and your baby have different blood types (ABO or Rh
Many mothers and their newborns leave the
hospital within 48 hours of the baby's birth, often before signs of jaundice
start. Your baby needs a follow-up exam within the first 5 days after birth.
Call your baby's doctor if at any time you notice a yellow tinge to your baby's
skin and eyes.