• According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 60 percent of babies are born with jaundice. Jaundice is caused by a naturally occurring substance in the human body, and some babies are more likely to get it than others.

    Red Blood Cells

    Unlike adults, a baby's red blood cells have a very short life span. As red blood cells "die" they create a naturally occurring substance called bilirubin that is sent through the bloodstream to the liver.


    Because of the quick turnover in red blood cells, a lot of bilirubin, far more than usual, floods the blood, causing the baby's skin to become jaundiced and turn yellow.


    In cases of jaundice, the baby's new and immature liver may not be able to process the excess of bilirubin that has been created fast enough.

    Absorption of Bilirubin

    When the liver does not remove enough bilirubin from the bloodstream, the bilirubin may be reabsorbed by the intestines. This process can also cause an infant to become jaundiced.

    Other Factors

    Infants who are premature, bruised at birth, have difficulty eating or who have siblings or family members who had jaundice are more likely to have jaundice as a newborn.


    CDC: Jaundice

    Family Doctor: Jaundice and Your Baby

    KidsHealth: Jaundice in Healthy Newborns

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