Munson Health
Newborn Jaundice

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by Lucey JR




Most babies with jaundice will not need treatment. Jaundice in formula-fed infants will usually clear up in two weeks. In breastfed babies, jaundice usually clears up in 2-3 weeks.
If your child does need treatment, talk with the doctor about the best treatment plan. Treatment options include:

Change in Feedings

Increased breastfeeding can help clear bilirubin from your baby's body. Your doctor may ask you to aim for 8-12 feeding per 24-hour period. Do not let your baby sleep for more than four hours without feeding during this time period. If you are having any problems breastfeeding, ask your doctor or lactation specialist for help.
Babies that are formula-fed will need to get extra formula. Ask the doctor for guidelines as to how much formula you should provide. You may need to give your baby 1-2 ounces (30-60 milliliters) of formula every 2-3 hours.
For most jaundice, extra breastfeeding is helpful. However, breast milk jaundice is caused by the breast milk. Your doctor may recommend stopping breastfeeding for a couple days. This will let the bilirubin decrease. Once the jaundice has cleared it is safe to resume breastfeeding.


Phototherapy is the use of special lights. The lights helps alter the bilirubin in the blood. The bilirubin can then easily pass in the urine or through the gastrointestinal tract.
These light are specially designed to treat the bilirubin without harming your baby's skin. Putting your baby in the direct sunlight is NOT recommended. Direct sunlight on a naked baby can cause a dangerous sunburn.

Exchange Transfusion

In the most severe cases of jaundice, your doctor may recommend a blood transfusion. A transfusion will replace your baby’s blood with new blood. The excess bilirubin will be removed with the blood.
If your newborn is diagnosed with jaundice, follow your doctor's instructions .


American Academy of Pediatrics

The March of Dimes



Health Canada

Maternal and Infant Health
Public Health Agency of Canada



Clinical practice guidelines: management of hyperbilirubinemia in the newborn infant 35 or more weeks of gestation. American Academy of Pediatrics website. Available at:;114/1/297 . Published July 2004. Accessed July 23, 2012.

Jaundice. Family website. Available at: . Updated February 2010. Accessed July 23, 2012.

Jaundice in healthy newborns. Kids Health website. Available at: . Updated June 2008. Accessed July 23, 2012.

Merck Manual. Hyperbilirubinemia. The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy website. Available at: . Updated February 2009. Accessed July 23, 2012.

Neonatal obstructive jaundice. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: . Updated February 2012. Accessed July 23, 2012.


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