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.


Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics

The March of Dimes



Health Canada

Public Health Agency of Canada



Infant jaundice.American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor website. Available at: Updated April 2014. Accessed August 21, 2014.

Jaundice in healthy newborns. Nemour's Kid's Health website. Available at: Updated November 2011. Accessed August 21, 2014.

Muchowski KE. Evaluation and treatment of neonatal hyperbilirubinemia. Am Fam Physician. 2014;89(11):873-878.

Neonatal hyperbilirubinemia. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated February 15, 2013. Accessed August 21, 2014.

Neonatal hyperbilirubinemia. The Merck Manual Professional Edition website. Available at: Updated October 2013. Accessed August 21, 2014.

Neonatal obstructive jaundice. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated May 2, 2014. Accessed August 21, 2014.


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