Clinical update

Neonatal jaundice

Phototherapy in incubator

Essential facts

Jaundice is one of the most common conditions affecting newborn babies. It is estimated that 6 out of every 10 babies develop jaundice, with even higher rates for premature babies.

Phototherapy is used to treat jaundice. Photo: Science Photo Library

Caused by increased levels of bilirubin in the blood, jaundice is generally harmless, and resolves without treatment by 2 weeks of age.

However, high levels of bilirubin can be harmful if not treated and need to be identified quickly.

What’s new?

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has updated its guidance on identifying and treating neonatal jaundice. Changes reflect the latest evidence on measuring and monitoring bilirubin levels and phototherapy treatment.

Jaundice can sometimes be an indication of serious liver disease, and if it is not identified and treated early, babies can develop kernicterus, a rare but serious neurological condition

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