Jaundice in Newborns (Hyperbilirubinemia)
Most of the time no medical treatment is needed for Reference jaundice in a newborn Opens New Window (hyperbilirubinemia). But watch for increasing intensity of the yellow tint in the skin and eyes or any change in your baby's behavior.
Babies who have Reference bilirubin Opens New Window in their blood at a level that could be harmful need treatment. Whatever the cause, if the condition is not treated, too much bilirubin in the blood may lead to brain damage (Reference kernicterus Opens New Window), which could result in hearing loss, intellectual disability, and other problems.
If your baby needs treatment, he or she will likely have Reference phototherapy. It uses a type of fluorescent light to help your baby's body get rid of bilirubin. Standard phototherapy is usually done in a hospital. But babies with jaundice who are otherwise healthy may be treated at home with a type of phototherapy that uses a fiber-optic wrap, usually a blanket or a band.
If your newborn is receiving phototherapy for jaundice in the hospital, you can help by:
- Asking whether you can stay in the hospital overnight so you can continue to care for your baby. If you are not able to stay, visit frequently.
- Soothing your baby if he or she is fidgety.
- Holding your baby during feedings and during the times he or she is taken out from under the light.
The fluorescent lights used in phototherapy for babies with jaundice are not harmful if precautions are taken. Eye shields are placed over the baby's eyes to protect them while under the light. The shields are removed during feedings. Babies are accustomed to being in the dark after months in the womb, so the shields should not bother your baby.
If the baby's jaundice is being caused by an underlying condition, other treatments may be needed. For example, if severe jaundice is caused by the baby's body destroying red blood cells (blood type incompatibility), the baby may need Reference immunoglobulin Opens New Window (IG). If that doesn't help, the baby may need to be admitted to a hospital and given a Reference blood transfusion Opens New Window.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference May 11, 2012|
|Medical Review:||Reference John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Reference Chuck Norlin, MD - Pediatrics