What Does Jaundice in a Newborn Mean?


Quick Answer

Jaundice in a newborn usually means that her liver may not yet be mature enough to filter out bilirubin, according to Healthline. Bilirubin is a yellow substance that results from the normal process of the breakdown of red blood cells by the liver

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What Does Jaundice in a Newborn Mean?
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Full Answer

In most newborns with jaundice, the condition is temporary and goes away after the infant begins feeding and her kidneys further mature, states Healthline. Usually, it takes from two to three weeks for this type of jaundice to disappear. However, jaundice in newborns may be caused by an underlying condition, such as not getting enough breast milk or having an incompatible blood type with her mother. Jaundice may also be caused an infection, a liver malfunction or an abnormality in the infant's red blood cells. In these cases, treatment may be necessary.

Phototherapy is a common and very effective treatment of newborn jaundice, states Healthline. During this treatment, the infant is placed in a special bed that emits light under the blue spectrum. The light helps to break down the excess bilirubin present in her body. For more severe cases of jaundice, a blood transfusion may be needed. Small amounts of blood are taken from a donor and given to the infant, which increases her red blood cell count and lowers bilirubin levels.

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