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Jaundice is a common and usually harmless condition in newborn babies that causes the skin and the whites of the eyes to turn yellow.

Symptoms of newborn jaundice include your baby's skin, whites of their eyes, mouth, hands and feet turning yellow.

Most babies with newborn jaundice get better within 2 weeks. If it does not get better, they may need special light treatment or a blood transfusion.

Jaundice is caused by a build-up of a substance called bilirubin in the blood. Babies often have too much bilirubin in their first 2 weeks.

Read more on the NHS website.

Symptoms of newborn jaundice include your baby's skin, whites of their eyes, mouth, hands and feet turning yellow.

Symptoms of newborn jaundice

Jaundice usually appears about 3 days after birth and disappears by the time the baby is 2 weeks old.

In premature babies, who are more prone to jaundice, it can take 5 to 7 days to appear and usually lasts about 3 weeks.

It also tends to last longer in babies who are breastfed, affecting some babies for a few months.

If your baby has jaundice, their skin will look slightly yellow. The yellowing of the skin usually starts on the head and face, before spreading to the chest and stomach.

In some babies, the yellowing reaches their arms and legs. The yellowing may also increase if you press an area of skin down with your finger.

Changes in skin colour can be more difficult to spot if your baby has a darker skin tone.

In these cases, yellowing may be more obvious elsewhere, such as:

A newborn baby with jaundice may also:

Read more on the NHS website.

Most babies with newborn jaundice get better within 2 weeks. If it does not get better, they may need special light treatment or a blood transfusion.

Medical treatments

Treatment for newborn jaundice is not usually needed because the symptoms normally pass within 10 to 14 days, although they can occasionally last longer.

Treatment is usually only recommended if tests show very high levels of bilirubin in a baby's blood.

This is because there's a small risk the bilirubin could pass into the brain and cause brain damage.

There are 2 main treatments that can be carried out in hospital to quickly reduce your baby's bilirubin levels.

These are:

  • phototherapy – a special type of light shines on the skin, which alters the bilirubin into a form that can be more easily broken down by the liver
  • an exchange transfusion – where your baby's blood is removed using a thin tube (catheter) placed in their blood vessels and replaced with blood from a matching donor; most babies respond well to treatment and can leave hospital after a few days

Read more on the NHS website.

Jaundice is caused by a build-up of a substance called bilirubin in the blood. Babies often have too much bilirubin in their first 2 weeks.

Read more on the NHS website.