Jaundice is yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes.
In most babies it means that your baby’s liver is taking a little time to work properly. However, it is important that the jaundice level is monitored by your midwife and/or health visitor to check it does not get too high and cause damage to your baby. Visit the section on baby jaundice for more information.
CLDF's experience is that most parents want to be reassured that the baby's bilirubin level is returning to normal. Initially, it is suggested that the serum bilirubin level is measured weekly until the bilirubin level returns to normal. In cases where the jaundice takes a long time to diminish, the jaundice level can be tested further apart, providing the trend is that the bilirubin level is reducing.
No, there is no need to stop breast feeding unless there is a clinical reason to do so. Sometimes a doctor may suggest that you stop breast feeding to see whether the jaundice clears and thus prove it is breast milk jaundice. This should not be necessary if a split bilirubin test has shown to be normal and all other things such as stool and urine colour have been checked and are normal too. However, you could continue to express breast milk during this time to ensure that you can re-establish breast feeding in a few days. Normally, breast milk jaundice does not recur.
Download CLDF's Jaundice Protocol (PDF, 386 KB) and download our parents’ leaflet (PDF, 94 KB) and take this to your doctor. Explain that you are worried by the prolonged jaundice and would like to have your mind put at rest. Ask for your baby to have a split bilirubin test.
Download our leaflet on Conjugated Jaundice in Babies (PDF, 1.2 MB) for more information.
If your child has been diagnosed with a liver disease, please visit the main CLDF website for specific information on liver diseases.
You can also contact CLDF's families officer here.
There are over 100 different liver diseases affecting babies and children and most are not caused by any fault of the parents. The sad fact is that two children are diagnosed every day in the UK with liver disease. However, there are treatments and the outlook is really encouraging. Plus, CLDF is here to support you every step of the way. Visit CLDF's main website and see what we have to offer.
In most cases, yes. It is important to pick it up early so treatment starts before the liver becomes badly damaged. Once the doctors have identified that your baby has liver disease they will need to investigate further to diagnose which liver disease your baby has and give the appropriate treatment.
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