Symptoms and Signs of Newborn Jaundice

Doctor's Notes on Newborn Jaundice

Jaundice is the s the yellowish discoloration of the skin, mucous membranes and the whites of the eyes (sclerae). Jaundice is common in newborns and is called neonatal jaundice. Jaundice is caused by elevated levels of bilirubin in the blood (hyperbilirubinemia). Most commonly, this is due to immaturity of the liver in the newborn. More rarely, newborn jaundice can be caused by more serious conditions such as blood cell or metabolic defects.

Signs and symptoms of newborn jaundice include yellowed skin and yellowing of the whites of the eyes. Associated symptoms and signs include light-colored stool, lethargy, poor feeding, and changes in muscle tone. Kernicterus is caused by prolonged, highly elevated levels of bilirubin affecting the central nervous system. It can cause irreversible damage to the brain and nervous system.

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2019


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.