A small amount of jaundice, or yellow color of the skin and eyes, is common in many full-term babies. It is even more common in premature babies. If jaundice occurs, it usually appears in the first three to five days of life and disappears by the end of two weeks without treatment.
Before your baby is discharged home from the hospital he/she will be screened for his/her risk of jaundice and the need for additional testing and/or early follow-up. If your baby goes home sooner than 72 hours after birth you will need to continue to monitor the baby's skin color at home every day. In addition, your infant should see a doctor or nurse within one to three days after going home.
Jaundice can be harmful if the bilirubin level in the baby’s blood is too high. Extremely high levels can harm the brain and cause hearing loss.
How to check for jaundice:
- Undress your baby and place him/her on a white sheet or blanket.
- Gently press on your baby’s nose, then chest and then leg. Note if there is a yellow color to the skin when you release your finger.
- Check inside of your baby’s mouth and whites of eyes for a yellow tinge.
Call your baby’s healthcare provider immediately if your baby is:
- If you note any yellow color to the skin after you gently press on the baby's nose, chest, or leg. The yellow color may range from lemon yellow to orange yellow.
- Very sleepy and does not wake up for feedings or skips two or more feedings
- Very fussy and does not eat or sleep
- Limp or floppy
- Seems still, especially arms or legs
- Screeching or has high pitched cry