Newborn Jaundice

Over 60% of newborn infants (neonates) are jaundiced in the first week or two of life. Jaundice is yellow coloring of the skin and other tissues caused by an excess of the pigment bilirubin. Although many babies are jaundiced, most are not deeply jaundiced, not below their abdomen, and they act normal - they nurse; they are not too sleepy; they have normal muscle tone; their cry is normal, and they don't arch their backs. Most neonatal jaundice is not harmful, but when it progresses and causes abnormal brain function, it is a medical emergency!

The goals of website are to help parents and providers understand jaundice, bilirubin, hyperbilirubinemia, and kernicterus and to answer the following questions:

1. My newborn baby is jaundiced. Why, and what should I do?  See NEWBORN JAUNDICE below.

2. What is kernicterus and does my child have it? See KERNICTERUS below.

3. Is there research to prevent, treat or cure kernicterus? See RESEARCH & RESOURCES.

4. Where can I learn more or take my child to be evaluated? See RESEARCH & RESOURCES. 

Newborn Baby

NEWBORN JAUNDICE

If you are worried about jaundice harming your baby and what to do, please click the box below to learn more about the Jaundiced Newborn baby.

Image by Hush Naidoo

If you want to know what is kernicterus and does my child have it, click on the box below.

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RESEARCH & RESOURCES

If you want to know about research to prevent, treat or cure kernicterus, click the box below.

NOTE: RESOURCES is under con- struction but will be available soon. Meanwhile, contact us by email.

Jaundice is a yellow color of skin and tissues caused by bilirubin, a normal breakdown product of red blood cell hemoglobin.

Hyperbilirubinemia is high (hyper-) level of bilirubin in blood (-emia).

Kernicterus is brain damage caused by excessive newborn jaundice.

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I am a Pediatric (Child) Neurologist. I became interested in hyperbilirubinemia and kernicterus through my love for neonatal neurology and because I felt that understanding how hyperbilirubinemia can affect the brain of newborns could lead to better care for newborns and possibly prevent lifelong neurological effects. I began doing bilirubin and kernicterus research in 1982 and seeing individuals with kernicterus in consultation since 1995. For more, see About The Author.

About the author, Steven M. Shapiro MD, MSHA: