Why do newborn babies get jaundice

Newborn jaundice

Newborn jaundice (medical name: jaundice neonatorum) is a mostly harmless jaundice that often occurs in the first few days after birth. The baby's liver is just starting to work slowly. This is why the body cannot break down bilirubin, a breakdown product of the red blood pigment hemoglobin, quickly enough. The bilirubin gets into the bloodstream and turns the white part of the eyes and skin of the baby yellow. Newborn jaundice occurs in around 70 percent of all newborns.

If the baby drinks enough and excretes enough urine, the dye is broken down. However, if it looks sleepy, does not want to drink and does not pass enough urine, the midwife or pediatrician should be informed. The bilirubin level in the blood may then have to be measured and phototherapy (treatment with UV light) carried out. UV light promotes the conversion of bilirubin and its breakdown in the liver. Sometimes it is enough to put the child in the cot near the window in indirect light (no direct sunlight!). Blood exchange treatment that was sometimes necessary in the past for severe disease has become very rare today.

Usually newborn jaundice will go away within a week. Intense or prolonged jaundice in the newborn can indicate an infection, rhesus intolerance or anemia (anemia) and must be examined by a doctor and treated if necessary.