Jaundice in Newborns (Neonatal Jaundice)

  • Medical Author:
    Steven Doerr, MD

    Steven Doerr, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Doerr received his undergraduate degree in Spanish from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He graduated with his Medical Degree from the University Of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver, Colorado in 1998 and completed his residency training in Emergency Medicine from Denver Health Medical Center in Denver, Colorado in 2002, where he also served as Chief Resident.

  • Medical Editor: John Mersch, MD, FAAP
    John Mersch, MD, FAAP

    John Mersch, MD, FAAP

    Dr. Mersch received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, San Diego, and prior to entering the University Of Southern California School Of Medicine, was a graduate student (attaining PhD candidate status) in Experimental Pathology at USC. He attended internship and residency at Children's Hospital Los Angeles.

Quiz: Your Baby's First Year!

Cephalohematoma (a collection of blood under the scalp)

Sometimes during the birthing process, the newborn may sustain a bruise or injury to the head, resulting in a blood collection/blood clot under the scalp. As this blood is naturally broken down, sudden elevated levels of bilirubin may overwhelm the processing capability of the newborn's immature liver, resulting in jaundice.

Red blood cell enzyme defects

Inherited genetic enzyme disorders, such as glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency (G6PD deficiency) or pyruvate kinase deficiency, for example, can lead to increased hemolysis and subsequent elevation in bilirubin levels.

Red blood cell membrane defects

Abnormalities in the membrane and shape of red blood cells (for example, spherocytosis) can lead to increased hemolysis.

Other causes of neonatal jaundice include prematurity, maternal diabetes, polycythemia, infection/sepsis, hypothyroidism, biliary atresia, cystic fibrosis, Crigler-Najjar syndrome, Gilbert syndrome, hepatitis, thalassemia, and galactosemia.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/30/2015

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