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Jaundice in Newborns (Hyperbilirubinemia) - Topic Overview

Your baby’s doctor will do a physical exam and ask you questions. The doctor may ask about:

  • Your general health, especially during your pregnancy.
  • Whether your baby was born early (prematurely) or at full term.
  • Whether there were any problems with the birth.
  • Your baby's birth weight and whether the baby has lost or gained weight since birth.
  • Your baby's feeding and elimination habits.
  • Your blood type and whether you and the baby have a problem with Rh incompatibility.
  • Any family history of health problems that could cause jaundice.

A blood test for bilirubin may be done to find out if your baby needs treatment.

More tests may be done if the doctor thinks that a health problem is causing too much bilirubin in the blood.

How is it treated?

Most of the time no treatment is needed for jaundice, because it usually goes away on its own. If you are breast-feeding, you may be able to help reduce the jaundice by feeding your baby about 8 to 12 times a day.

Sometimes babies with jaundice are put under a type of fluorescent light. This is called phototherapy . The skin absorbs the light. This changes the bilirubin so that the body can more easily get rid of it in the stool and urine. The treatment is usually done in a hospital. But babies sometimes are treated at home.

If a health problem caused the jaundice, your baby may need other treatment.

Frequently Asked Questions

Learning about jaundice in newborns (hyperbilirubinemia):

Being diagnosed:

Getting treatment:

Living with jaundice in newborns:


WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: May 13, 2010
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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