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What is jaundice?

Neonatal jaundice is one of the most common conditions in newborn babies, affecting about 60%, but the condition is usually completely harmless (only about 1 in 20 need treatment).

Jaundice causes yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes. Your midwife or doctor will check your baby for jaundice during the newborn physical examination and the condition tends to disappear without any treatment within 10-14 days.

Jaundice is caused by a build-up of bilirubin, which is a yellowish substance that forms after some red blood cells break down (don’t worry, this just naturally happens a bit every day).

This build-up happens because babies have a high number of red blood cells and because, at birth, the control of your baby’s bilirubin switches from your liver to your baby’s less effective liver.

Jaundice is usually nothing to worry about. But if your baby starts to develop jaundice symptoms after the expected 2-3 days or their symptoms get significantly worse, make sure you speak to your midwife or doctor as soon as you can.