Jaundice in Newborns
Jaundice, also called hyperbilirubinemia, is extremely common in newborns, both full term and premature. Bilirubin is a byproduct of the breakdown of red blood cells. All human beings have a certain amount of bilirubin that they must eliminate every day. Newborn babies, especially premature babies, have difficulty in removing bilirubin from their bodies in urine and stool. As the bilirubin accumulates, it can cause a yellow discoloration of the skin and the whites of the eyes. Most of the time this is not harmful and requires no treatment.
However, we start prevention treatment with elevated levels, because very high levels of bilirubin can cause brain injury. Bilirubin levels can be monitored either by blood tests or by a device that reads the bilirubin level through the skin.