Recognizing the Causes of Yellow Babies and How to Overcome It

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Recognizing the Causes of Yellow Babies and How to Overcome It
Recognizing the Causes of Yellow Babies and How to Overcome It

Baby jaundice or jaundice is a common condition experienced by newborns. Although generally harmless, there are a few things to watch out for if your baby shows signs of jaundice. That way, appropriate treatment can be immediately carried out

The condition of a yellow baby is marked by a yellow color on the skin or the whites of the baby's eyes. In addition, babies with jaundice usually have dark yellow urine, pale stools, and yellowing of the palms of the hands and feet.

Recognize the Causes of Yellow Babies and How to Overcome It - Alodokter

This symptom of baby jaundice usually appears 2-3 days after birth and can go away on its own within 2 weeks. However, if it doesn't get better, this condition can be a sign of a serious illness, such as brain damage, cerebral palsy, to hearing loss.

Cause Baby Yellow

Baby jaundice occurs due to a buildup of bilirubin in the baby's blood. Bilirubin is a yellow substance that is produced by the natural destruction of red blood cells. This condition often affects newborns, because their liver function is not functioning optimally.

Actually, the baby has had bilirubin since he was in the womb which is produced by the placenta. After birth, bilirubin from the baby's bloodstream will be filtered by the liver and released into the intestinal tract.

However, because the baby's liver is not yet fully developed, while more bilirubin is produced, the process of removing bilirubin is hampered.

Baby jaundice caused by an increase in bilirubin is very common and is also called physiological jaundice. In addition, jaundice can also be caused by the following conditions:

  • Sepsis in babies
  • Viral or bacterial infection
  • Internal bleeding
  • heartbreak
  • Deficiency of certain enzymes
  • The baby's red blood cells are abnormal so they are easily damaged
  • Rhesus and blood group incompatibility between mother and baby
  • Problems with the baby's digestive system, including biliary atresia

Babies born prematurely and babies who find it difficult to consume breast milk are also at high risk for jaundice.

Complications that May Occur in Yellow Babies

Baby jaundice caused by high bilirubin levels can experience several complications, including:

Acute encephalopathy

This condition occurs when bilirubin in the baby's blood enters the brain area, then damages brain cells, causing encephalopathy. There are several symptoms of acute encephalopathy that can appear in infants, including:

  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Difficulty breastfeeding or sucking the mother's nipple
  • Sluggish
  • Hard to wake up
  • Neck and body arched back
  • More fussy and restless


Acute encephalopathy in jaundiced babies that is not treated properly can cause kernicterus or permanent damage to the brain. This kernicterus can cause a baby to lose hearing and delay the development of tooth enamel or the outer layer of teeth.

How to Overcome a Yellow Baby

Jaundice in newborns usually does not require special treatment because it can go away in 10–14 days. However, if the results of the examination show high levels of bilirubin in the baby's blood, special treatment is required from the doctor.

The following are the main treatments for babies with high bilirubin levels:

  • Phototherapy, to convert bilirubin into a form that is easily broken down by the liver using a special light
  • Exchange transfusion, which is the process of removing the baby's blood using a catheter placed in a vein and replacing it with blood from a matched donor

You can prevent the increase in bilirubin that can cause jaundice by giving him enough food. Breastfed babies should feed 8–12 times a day for the first few days of life.

For formula-fed babies, you should give 30–60 ml of milk every 2–3 hours during the first week after birth to prevent an increase in bilirubin levels in the baby's blood.

Sufficient food intake is also able to overcome excess bilirubin in the baby's blood, which will later be excreted through feces.

If your little one has jaundice, you should have their condition checked regularly, especially on the whites of the eyeballs and skin. This check should be done 2 times a day to see if the condition has returned to normal or is getting worse.

If the condition of the jaundiced baby does not improve after 14 days, immediately consult a doctor for treatment. Prompt and appropriate treatment will reduce the risk of jaundiced babies experiencing permanent brain damage.

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