Jaundice and Your Newborn Baby
Jaundice is a condition that affects more than 90 percent of babies, usually on the third or fourth day of life, as a result of extra bilirubin, a waste product the baby's liver produces after birth. In its mildest form, jaundice is not harmful to the baby. During the first week after birth, feed your baby often (every two to three hours during the day), and expose her to sunlight to lower her body's bilirubin level.
A baby with jaundice will appear tanned or bronzed (even after you press on her skin). If your baby has jaundice that requires medical attention, the soles and palms of her feet may be yellowish, as will the whites of her eyes. Your baby may also be very sleepy and have no appetite. If your baby appears more than a little yellow and/or can't be woken for feedings, call her health care provider immediately. She will want to check the bilirubin level and may suggest a therapy involving exposure to special lights. Be sure to find out what the best option is, and whether you need to have the therapy done in the hospital or can do it at home.
Signs of illnessMost newborns are very healthy. But it's always a wise idea to recognize signs that your baby might need medical attention. Go to the page titled "Your Baby's Health Care Checkups" for advice on when to call your baby's health care provider.
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Childbirth Connection is a national not-for-profit organization founded in 1918 as Maternity Center Association. Our mission is to improve the quality of maternity care through research, education, advocacy and policy. Childbirth Connection promotes safe, effective and satisfying evidence-based maternity care and is a voice for the needs and interests of childbearing families.
Most recent page update: 9/9/2010