Women's Health Terms Beginning with the Letter "J"
In the first few days of life, more than half of all full-term babies and as many as 80 percent of premature infants who are otherwise healthy develop jaundice, a yellowish discoloration of the skin and eyes. Although some babies are jaundiced at birth, most develop the condition during the second or third day of life. That's why you may not notice it until after your baby is home.
Jaundice itself isn't a disease. In most cases it occurs because your baby's liver isn't mature enough to metabolize a molecule called bilirubin, which normally forms when the body recycles old or damaged red blood cells.
Jaundice usually isn't a cause for alarm. It doesn't cause discomfort for your baby and most often disappears on its own in one to two weeks. Still, it should be closely monitored by your baby's doctor because severe jaundice can lead to serious complications. Phototherapy, a treatment using special ultraviolet lights, can help keep your baby's blood level of bilirubin from becoming too high.