Jaundice in newborn babies is common because their livers are immature. Severely jaundiced babies may be treated by phototherapy.
The baby is undressed and put under a very bright light, usually with a soft mask over the eyes. It may be possible for your baby to have phototherapy by your bed so that you don’t have to be separated. This treatment may continue for several days, with breaks for feeds, before the jaundice clears up. In some cases, if the jaundice gets worse, an exchange transfusion of blood may be needed. Some babies have jaundice because of liver disease and need different treatment. A blood test before phototherapy is started checks for liver disease.
Babies with jaundice after two weeks
Many babies are jaundiced for up to two weeks following birth. This is common in breastfed babies and usually it’s normal and does no harm. It is not a reason to stop breastfeeding. But it’s important to ensure that all is well if your baby is still jaundiced after two weeks. You should see your doctor within a day or two. This is particularly important if your baby’s stools are pale. A simple urine test will distinguish between ‘breast milk’ jaundice, which will resolve itself, or jaundice which may need urgent treatment.
Information provided by Health Promotion England.