Somali: Ciladda midab hurdi/jaale ah ee ilmaha dhawaan dhashay

Jaundice means that the skin, the whites of the eyes, the mucous membranes in the mouth, and some tissues in the body are yellowish.

Jaundice is caused by an increase in bilirubin, a substance that results from the breakdown of red blood cells.

Babies normally are born with more red blood cells than they will need after birth. As their bodies get rid of these extra red blood cells, bilirubin is produced. When the bilirubin is deposited in tissues, it causes a yellowish color.

As your baby begins to get rid of the bilirubin, the jaundice will go away. This takes several days. Your baby's health care provider and nurses will look for signs of jaundice while your baby is in the hospital.

The treatment for jaundice is simple. Feed your baby often. This helps your baby get rid of the bilirubin in stools and urine.

Some babies need to spend time under special lights to help break down the bilirubin. These lights look like fluorescent bulbs or are part of a special fiberoptic blanket.

Usually, newborn jaundice is not harmful and goes away without treatment. But, very high levels of bilirubin can cause serious problems, such as brain damage.

When to call your baby's health care provider

Call your baby's health care provider right away if your:

  • baby's skin, the whites of their eyes, or inside their mouth turned a little yellow
  • baby is extra sleepy (hard to stay awake and feed well)
Jaundice symptoms can start as late as five to seven days after birth. The most common age a baby will develop jaundice is between 3 and 7 days old.

Related resources

Source: Allina Health Patient Education, Beginnings: Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond, eighth edition, ob-ah-90026
First Published: 10/04/2002
Last Reviewed: 12/06/2021