Jaundice (JAWN-dis) is the yellow color seen in the skin of many newborns. It is caused by a chemical in the blood called bilirubin (bil-ih-ROO-bin). Most babies have mild jaundice that is harmless, but in rare cases, the bilirubin level can get very high and might cause brain damage. This is why testing bilirubin levels as recommended is important.

Here is information from the American Academy of Pediatrics about jaundice, bilirubin levels, treatment of jaundice, when to follow up after discharge, and when to call the doctor.

Everyone’s blood contains bilirubin, which comes from red blood cells and is removed by the liver. Before birth, the mother’s liver does this for the baby. Most babies develop jaundice in the first few days after birth because it takes a few days for the baby’s liver to get better at removing bilirubin.

In breastfed babies, jaundice can last 1 month or, occasionally,...

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