Jaundice in newborn babies -- Causes, cure, symptoms and prevention

Ranjani Sinha
0 to 1 years

Created by Ranjani Sinha
Updated on Jan 11, 2021

Jaundice in newborn babies Causes cure symptoms and prevention
Reviewed by Expert panel

To know that your newborn baby has jaundice can be daunting for any first time mommy. It was no different for me. In fact I was under tremendous shock to hear about it. I was blaming myself for my baby’s jaundice; however my paediatrician told me that it was not my fault. He also told me that newborn jaundice after 2 to 3 days of birth is quite common, as approximately 80% babies are either born with jaundice or get jaundice.

So mommies stop blaming yourself for your newborn’s jaundice and get acquainted with some of the important facts about newborn jaundice that will help you deal with it in a better way.

What Causes Jaundice In Healthy Newborn Babies?

Before we go on to the causes of jaundice, let’s understand how jaundice occurs in a healthy newborn baby. When the levels of bilirubin (a yellow substance, which is made when the body breaks down the old red blood cells and is excreted through urine and stool) goes higher than the accepted levels, jaundice occurs. In the case of newborn babies, the jaundice occurs because your baby’s body has more bilirubin than it can get rid of because the baby’s liver is not mature enough to filter excess bilirubin. During pregnancy, your body removes excess bilirubin from your baby through the placenta.

Can Breastfeeding Cause Jaundice In Newborn Babies?

Not breastfeeding but infrequent breastfeeding and or insufficient feeding can lead to jaundice, though the exact relation between breastfeeding and jaundice has not been known till date. However, it is also crucial to note here that breastfeeding jaundice and breast milk jaundice are two different things. Breast milk jaundice is a jaundice that occurs when a substance in the breast milk is blocking the breakdown of bilirubin thus causing the jaundice in newborns. While breastfeeding jaundice occurs when there is insufficient feeding.

What is Physiological Jaundice In Newborns?

Physiological Jaundice in newborn is the most common and normal type of Jaundice that occurs in a healthy newborn baby. It happens when an otherwise healthy and breastfed baby’s body is not able to get rid of the bilirubin quickly enough thus creating an excess of bilirubin. It typically appears on the second or third day of life and affects approximately 60% of the newborns.

What Are The Signs Of Neonatal Jaundice?

The signs for jaundice in newborn are similar to that of jaundice in adults. However look for these symptoms in your baby

  • Skin turning yellow
  • Drowsiness
  • Have a high-pitched cry
  • Has dark coloured urine

When Is Newborn Jaundice Dangerous?

Most of the time newborn jaundice is not dangerous or even fatal and gets better within 1 or 2 weeks with phototherapy under a halogen light and then under the sun rays. However, if the bilirubin levels are high usually more than 25 mg then it is time to visit your doctor and get your baby examined, as jaundice could be because of other underlying medical condition that would need treatment.

Home Remedies For Neonatal Jaundice

The neonatal jaundice doesn’t last for more than 2 weeks at the max, and your doctor would not advice you any treatment for the same. Here are three easy home remedies to cure your baby’s jaundice

  1. Frequent breast feeding: Generally newborn jaundice occurs when there is infrequent feeding so if you are feeding your baby frequently then there are more chances of your baby getting better quickly. The feeding in newborns is generally on demand but a jaundiced baby is mostly sleepy so you need to wake him/her up for the feed and ensure that they get their fill before putting them to rest
  2. Supplement the feeding: If you feel that for any reason your breast milk supply is less then you need to supplement your milk with some formula milk so that your baby is well-hydrated and have more chances of getting better quickly
  3. Exposing your baby sunrays: This is the best way to ensure that your baby gets better quickly. You need to remove all the clothes and hold your baby in your hands and expose them to the first rays of the sun. The idea is to expose as much of skin possible for quicker recovery
  4. How Long Does Newborn Jaundice Last?

    Generally newborn jaundice lasts for 1 -2 weeks at max unless there is some other complication. Fortunately newborn jaundice can easily be avoided if the mother starts breastfeeding the baby immediately, and feed your baby frequently to avoid jaundice in your baby. And if after despite all your best efforts your baby does get jaundice then worry not as it is just physiological jaundice – the most common and normal form of jaundice and keep following your doctor’s advice for the same.

    Did you like Ranjini’s post on newborn jaundice? Do share your views on the same in the comments section below.

This content has been checked & validated by Doctors and Experts of the parentune Expert panel. Our panel consists of Neonatologist, Gynecologist, Peadiatrician, Nutritionist, Child Counselor, Education & Learning Expert, Physiotherapist, Learning disability Expert and Developmental Pead.

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| Aug 10, 2017

hey nyc information mommy... I faced same situation tooo, but we mst b strong at tat moment as it is common phenomenon

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| Aug 12, 2017

yes i lyked it very much as i hav faced it once n got panicked as u told. now my baby is going to b 3 months old Alhamdulillah

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| Jul 28, 2019

hi mera baby one month ka hai usko fever ho gaya kya karna chaiye

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| Aug 28, 2019

thanks for making it clear what actually is.. and wat is the remedies... today my baby is 1 month 12 days... she suffered frm d same aftr her birth.. but today aftr proper medication n God grace she is going her best of health.

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| Aug 07, 2020

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| Aug 13, 2020

Thnx.. this article really help me out

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| Nov 04, 2020

after phototherapy, can this treatment became baby's skin dark?

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| Nov 07, 2020

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