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Kidz First Neonatal Care

Public Service, Paediatrics, Intensive Care

Jaundice

Your baby may need to be tested or treated for jaundice.  Many babies become jaundiced soon after birth.  Levels of jaundice we are concerned about depend on how old your baby is or if it was born prematurely.
 
What is wrong?
Jaundice is the name for the yellow skin that some babies get.  The yellow substance is called bilirubin and comes from the normal breakdown of blood cells.  After birth some babies are slow to get rid of the bilirubin.
 
Who is at risk?
  • Pre-term babies.
  • Babies whose blood group is different from that of their mother.
Tests
  • Blood tests are taken from a prick in your baby’s heel to check the bilirubin level.
  • Blood tests or scans may be done to find the cause of jaundice if it lasts for more than 2 weeks.
Treatment
  • If the bilirubin level is high, the baby is put under special lights.  The lights break down bilirubin and it will come out in baby’s wees and poos.
  • A drip or extra feeds may be given.
  • A special blood transfusion may be needed for some extreme types of jaundice.
How long?
  • The baby will need tests until the bilirubin level is going down and nearly back to normal.
  • Babies may be able to stay in the ward with their mothers.
Special checks
  • Most babies who had jaundice do not need any checks after they leave hospital.
  • Some babies need a blood test at about 4 weeks.
  • Babies who had a very high level of jaundice will need a hearing test.

This page was last updated at 11:31AM on September 3, 2021.