Newborn Jaundice and Kernicterus

woman with abdominal pain

When should I contact my doctor if I think my newborn has jaundice?

See your baby's doctor the same day if your baby:

  • Is very yellow or orange (skin color changes start from the head and spread to the toes).
  • Is hard to wake up or will not sleep at all.
  • Is not breastfeeding or sucking from a bottle well.
  • Is very fussy.
  • Does not have enough wet or dirty diapers.
  • If you think your baby has jaundice you should call and visit your baby's doctor right away. Ask your baby's doctor or nurse about a jaundice bilirubin test.
  • If your baby does have jaundice, it is important to take jaundice seriously and stick to the follow-up plan for appointments and recommended care.

Make sure your baby is getting enough to eat. The process of removing waste also removes bilirubin in your baby's blood. If you are breastfeeding, you should nurse the baby at least 8 to 12 times a day for the first few days. This will help you make enough milk for the baby and will help keep the baby's bilirubin level down. If you are having trouble breastfeeding, ask your doctor, nurse, or a lactation coach for help.

When should I get emergency medical help if I think my newborn has jaundce?

Get emergency medical help if your baby:

  • Is crying inconsolably or with a high pitch.
  • Is arched like a bow (the head or neck and heels are bent backward and the body forward).
  • Has a stiff, limp, or floppy body.
  • Has strange eye movements.

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