All about Jaundice

Contributed by : Ravina Sewani   
All about Jaundice

Here are Jaundice Types, Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, and Prevention.

Jaundice is a liver-related condition that causes a yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes. Jaundice is the result of the build-up of a substance called bilirubin in the bloodstream. It’s an orange-yellow substance that usually passes through the liver and is excreted from the body.

When there are abnormally high levels of bilirubin in the blood, jaundice develops, and colour of the skin and eye change.

Types of jaundice:

In newborns, jaundice usually occurs because an infant’s liver isn’t fully developed enough to properly break down and excrete bilirubin.

  • Obstructive jaundice: this results from blockage in the bile duct between the pancreas and the liver.
  • Hepatocellular jaundice: this results when there is a liver disease or damage.
  • Hemolytic jaundice: this develops when there is an abnormal breakdown of red blood cells, leading to excessive levels of bilirubin in the blood.



Abdominal pain



Causes in Newborns:

  • Physiological hyperbilirubinemia
  • ABO incompatibility
  • Rh incompatibility
  • Haemorrhage
  • Intrauterine infections
  • Metabolic causes
  • Breast milk jaundice
  • If your baby is born premature, jaundice is common. This is because the liver is still developing and the bilirubin isn’t flushed out of their system. This should correct itself in a few weeks.

Causes in Children:

  • Malaria
  • Sickle cell crisis
  • Thalassemia
  • Drugs or other toxins
  • Autoimmune disorders


Usually, a doctor can tell whether your baby has jaundice or not just by looking at your child. To further confirm about the jaundice, your child’s doctor may ask for a blood test or a urine sample.


In many cases, jaundice goes away on its own in 1 to 2 weeks. Your doctor will decide whether your baby should wait it out or start treatments like:

  • Extra feedings: Taking in more breast milk or formula milk will help your baby poop more often, which can help clear out bilirubin from the body. 
  • Photo-therapy: In this treatment, the baby is put under blue-green lights. This helps in elimination of bilirubin from the body via urine. Your baby will be made to wear eye patches to protect his eyes.
  • Intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg): If your baby's jaundice happens because he has a different blood type from yours, your doctor may need to give a blood protein through an IV that helps stop the breakdown of red blood cells in your child.
  • Exchange transfusion: If your baby has severe jaundice that isn't getting better with other treatments, (s)he may need a blood transfusion called an exchange transfusion. In this process, your doctor draws small amounts of your baby's blood and replaces it with blood from a donor. It's rare for babies to need this level of treatment for jaundice.


Typical newborn jaundice cannot be prevented usually but you can feed your baby well to make sure your child recovers soon. If you're breastfeeding, aim for 8-12 feedings a day in the first days of your baby's life.

For older kids, following tips will help prevent jaundice:

  • Make sure your kids stay hygienic.
  • Ensure your kids drink mineral or bottled water or boil the water before drinking it.
  • Eat fresh food, and have a balanced diet.
  • Ensure your kids get their vaccines on time.

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