Jaundice and Phototherapy
Bilirubin is a brownish-yellow substance that’s produced when the liver breaks down red blood cells. When bilirubin levels are high, the skin and whites of the eyes may appear yellow. This is called jaundice and isn’t unusual in newborns. However, if you notice that your baby’s jaundice persists or worsens, call your baby’s provider immediately.
If your baby’s bilirubin level becomes too high, your provider may recommend phototherapy treatment. When your baby’s skin is exposed to these special lights, the bilirubin breaks down and your baby’s body can get rid of it through his urine and stool. When a baby is having phototherapy it’s especially important to feed him every two to three hours so that he stays well hydrated. During phototherapy, your baby may require monitoring of his bilirubin level through blood tests, and his eyes will be covered to protect them from the bright lights.
If your baby’s bilirubin level isn’t too high or rising too quickly and is otherwise healthy, there are other treatments that can be performed at home. Check with your baby’s provider for more information.