Infant Jaundice


Diagnosing infant jaundice is primarily based on the visual assessment of your baby’s appearance, but it is essential to quantify the bilirubin levels in their blood for an accurate diagnosis. The severity of jaundice, determined by bilirubin levels, guides the treatment plan. Diagnostic methods include:

  • Physical examination
  • Laboratory testing using a blood sample from your baby
  • Skin testing with a transcutaneous bilirubinometer, which measures light reflection through the skin

If there are indications of an underlying disorder contributing to the jaundice, your doctor may also order additional blood or urine tests.


Mild jaundice in infants typically resolves on its own within two or three weeks. For cases of moderate or severe jaundice, extended hospital stay or readmission may be necessary.

Addressing elevated bilirubin levels in your baby might involve the following interventions:

  • Enhanced nutrition: To prevent weight loss, your doctor may recommend more frequent feeding or supplementation to ensure your baby receives sufficient nutrition.
  • Light therapy (phototherapy): Placing your baby under a special lamp emitting blue-green light can alter the structure of bilirubin molecules, facilitating their excretion through urine and stool. During this treatment, your baby will wear only a diaper and protective eye patches. Light therapy may also involve the use of a light-emitting pad or mattress.
  • Intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg): If jaundice is linked to blood type differences between the mother and baby, where antibodies from the mother contribute to the rapid breakdown of the baby’s red blood cells, an intravenous transfusion of immunoglobulin may be administered. This blood protein can reduce antibody levels, potentially decreasing jaundice and minimizing the need for an exchange transfusion, although conclusive results are not guaranteed.
  • Exchange transfusion: In rare cases where severe jaundice does not respond to other treatments, a baby may undergo an exchange transfusion. This procedure, conducted in a newborn intensive care unit, involves withdrawing small amounts of the baby’s blood and replacing it with donor blood. This dilutes bilirubin and maternal antibodies, aiming to address the persistent jaundice.