Liver Disease Information
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American Liver Foundation
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Explore this section to learn more about Newborn Jaundice, including a description of it and how it's diagnosed.
The liver is the second largest organ in your body and is located under your rib cage on the right side. It weighs about three pounds in the adult and is shaped like a football that is flat on one side.
The liver performs many jobs in your body. It processes what you eat and drink into energy and nutrients your body can use. The liver also removes harmful substances from your blood.
Jaundice is the yellowing of the skin and eyes. It results from having too much bilirubin in the blood. Bilirubin is a yellow substance made from the breakdown of red blood cells.
Most newborns develop jaundice. Jaundice in newborns is usually mild and goes away within one to two weeks. However, babies with jaundice need to be regularly seen by a doctor because severe jaundice can cause brain damage.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that every newborn be checked for jaundice before leaving the hospital and three to five days after birth.
Jaundice usually occurs in newborns because theirs livers are not fully developed. Some other medical conditions that make newborn jaundice worse are:
Jaundice can occur in babies of any gender, race, or ethnicity. However, certain risk factors increase a newborn’s chance of having jaundice:
Jaundice often appears in newborns on the second or third day after birth. Newborn jaundice progresses in the following pattern of severity. Stage 1 is the least severe.
If the newborn’s jaundice is very severe and is not treated, it can cause permanent damage to a baby’s brain. However in most newborns, jaundice is temporary and causes no harm.
Jaundice usually is noticed in the first days of life. If the jaundice continues or increases after the baby leaves the hospital, the baby should be seen again by a doctor.
Newborn jaundice is diagnosed by a doctor examining the baby and by blood tests.
The severity of the newborn’s jaundice will determine if and what type of treatment is needed: