Jaundice

Friday, August 06, 2010

A common condition in newborns, jaundice refers to the yellow color of the skin and whites of the eyes caused by excess bilirubin in the blood. Dr. Edward Hill tells us more about this condition in todays 60 Second Housecall.

Dr. Hill:

Jaundice is present to some degree in almost all newborns, but it can be a worry for many new parents. The primary symptom of jaundice is a yellow coloring of the skin. The skin appears yellow because of increased levels of bilirubin that the liver is unable to clear. At birth, babies have relatively immature liver function and are not able to completely clear bilirubin. Jaundice usually appears between the second and fifth days of life and clears by two weeks. It usually causes no problems.

To treat jaundice, the physician will recommend keeping the baby well hydrated with breast milk or formula. Feeding helps because broken down bilirubin is carried out of the body in the stools. Sunlight helps to break down bilirubin. Placing a child in a well-lit window for 10 minutes twice a day is often all that is needed to help cure mild jaundice. Never place an infant in direct sunlight. Sometimes artificial lights are used on infants whose bilirubin levels are very high, or in premature infants.

For North Mississippi Medical Center, Im Dr. Edward Hill.