Jaundice in the newborn: what is this disease, should I be concerned?

Many newborns still in the hospital there are signs of jaundice, which is very worrying for parents. However, doctors say that the reasons for concern in most cases: this phenomenon is physiological and has nothing to do with hepatitis. Usually the symptoms of jaundice are a few days.

What is neonatal or physiological jaundice? What are its symptoms?

For neonatal jaundice marked by a noticeable yellowing of baby’s skin and her sclera and mucous membranes. This is caused by increased levels of bilirubin in the blood, which is completely normal and occurs in 60-80% of newborn babies.

Manifestations of physiological jaundice include:

  • Yellowing of the face and mucous membranes of the baby, particularly the whites of the eyes.
  • The development of symptoms 2-4 days after birth into the light. Most often at this time it is still in the hospital.
  • The disappearance of the symptoms on the 7-10th day after birth.

Why does physiological jaundice?

So why in newborns increases the levels of bilirubin that they turn yellow before our eyes? This occurs through the process of reconfiguration of hemoglobin, which occurs after the birth of the baby. The fact that during intrauterine development the fetus is dominated by the hemoglobin F(HbF), which binds oxygen better than the hemoglobin HbA. After a baby light in his body begins intense destruction HbFдля allow synthesis of HbA. Adverse reaction from that collapse – the formation of indirect bilirubin. The liver of a newborn also does not have sufficient bonding properties, therefore, the concentration of bilirubin in the blood increases. Hence the symptoms of jaundice.

There is a pattern in premature babies, jaundice occurs more often because their enzyme systems are weaker than full-term babies, bilirubin is removed slower from the body.

The dynamics of the spread of yellow color in the skin of a newborn

To assess the severity of jaundice

and the necessity of its treatment, it is necessary to perform the phasing and intensity of the spread of yellow color on the baby’s skin. To do this, physicians all over the world use scale Kramer. What usually happens is that the yellow color first appears on the face of the child, then may spread to chest, abdomen and limbs of a baby, illustrating the degree of growth of the level of bilirubin in the blood serum.

The gradual spread of jaundice on a scale Kramer

Area on the body of a newborn

The estimated level of bilirubin in the blood, mmol/l







Arms and legs (shoulders, forearms, thighs, calves)


The soles and palms


The real cause for concern is the spread of yellow colour on the 4-th area on the 2nd day of a child’s life and on the 5th area 48 hours after the birth. Then without treatment is not enough.

Treatment of jaundice in newborns

Physiological jaundice usually goes away by itself and does not require treatment. However, if there are indicators that concern the doctors, she treated in the hospital with phototherapy when the baby is placed under special lamps.

After discharge the baby home it is necessary to ensure normal living conditions as well as adhering to: walk in the fresh air, the right to feed her. The best prevention of jaundice – early attachment of the baby to the breast, because breast milk promotes rapid excretion of bilirubin from the child’s body.

Doctors warn: if within two weeks after discharge from the hospital the jaundice does not pass, you need to seek medical help. In this case you will need additional laboratory examination of the child, and the question of its treatment will be addressed individually.