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Why is my Newborn Yellow?

Five years ago when we took our newborn home from the hospital, she was jaundiced. I had no idea what it was but she was a bit yellow, as if she had a nice tan. The midwife advised us to feed her a lot and let her get some sunshine. So my husband held her in front of the window and I kept breastfeeding her as much as I could. Her jaundice gradually cleared and her normal skin color reappeared. Many newborns have jaundice, but what is it? Should new parents be worried?


Jaundice in newborns is a common condition and shows itself in yellow discoloration in the skin and eyes. This discoloration is as a result of too much bilirubin in the blood. This happens when the liver is not mature enough to get rid of the bilirubin in the blood stream. The liver normally filters the bilirubin from the bloodstream and releases it into the intestinal tract. Jaundice is very common and usually resolves itself, however sometimes treatment is required. Newborns are routinely checked on regular basis for jaundice, but depending on the level of jaundice within the first week of the baby's life, which could be normal, abnormal levels will warrant further intervention. Here are a few tips on how to spot jaundice and the kind of treatment done for abnormal levels of bilirubin in the blood:


Signs and Treatment of Jaundice

Check for:

+ Yellowing of the skin

+ Yellowing of the whites of eyes

Usually between the second and fourth day of birth

How is Jaundice tested for? 

Patients at OASIS will be tested using a skin meter to measure the level of bilirubin. If a high level of bilirubin is detected, a blood test will be completed to confirm.  

If the jaundice does not clear itself, how is it treated?

+ Phototherapy: This is used to eliminate the bilirubin from the blood as it makes it easier for the bilirubin molecules to break down. The infant will be placed under a special light and mother encouraged to breastfeed her infant frequently. Without intervention, high levels of bilirubin can lead to toxic brain injury.

Normally infants requiring phototherapy will be admitted for one night. In most cases 24hrs of this treatment is enough to get your infant back on the track to health.

(OASIS Pediatric patient undergoing light therapy)

+ Frequent feedings: more feeds means more bilirubin eliminated from the body through stool and urine.


If you suspect your newborn to be jaundiced make an appointment with our pediatrics team for further advice and care.

You may find in some local hospitals that phototherapy will be done over several days separating mother and baby, and interfering with breastfeeding.

Early detection of jaundice is important.

Keeping mother and baby together is best for health!

OASIS Pediatric Clinic

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