What Causes Jaundice in Newborns?


There are some diseases and medical conditions that affect even the youngest of children, like newborns. And one of such conditions is jaundice, which is a yellow coloring of the skin and the eyes. However, it is not a disease in itself but a symptom of other underlying medical problems.

What is jaundice in newborns?

Jaundice in children occurs when there is an overabundance of a yellowing pigment in the red blood cells named bilirubin. Usually, among the younger children, this condition is mostly visible in preterm babies and a few breastfed babies. The time limit for this is before the 38-weeks gestation period. 

One of the most important tasks that the liver does is getting rid of this pigment. But because of certain diseases, the liver stops working effectively, which results in more bilirubin in the bloodstream. Although this is more common among adults, chances of seeing jaundice in baby occur if the liver has not matured properly at birth. 

In most cases, this condition is not harmful and does not require hard medication or treatment. At times, herbal medicine does work effectively as well. Yet, in certain scenarios, it can have dangerous ramifications like the possibility of brain damage, but it is rare. Thus, it is important to know what the causes are before arranging proper jaundice baby treatment at home, under doctor’s orders.

Causes Jaundice in Newborns

Aside from bilirubin levels, there are some particular causes for jaundice in a newborn baby. However, the ones that occurred due to other diseases are not harmless. Some of them are serious conditions too, and consulting the pediatric doctors is important. Moreover, homeopathic medicines work as well, but that too requires a professional recommendation. 

In order to focus on the jaundice symptoms and treatment, knowing these factors is important. 

1. Issues in Bilirubin production

When the red blood cells (RBCs) break down inside the bloodstream after its life cycle, bilirubin is released into the blood. This release of the yellow pigment is a normal action and is not harmful. Yet, if the liver stops working properly, it cannot stop the increase of this pigment density. 

Owing to this, the skin starts looking yellow, and that is the same in the case of young children. As the formation of bilirubin is more intense in the case of the newborns, the liver needs to work faster. But since the livers do not form properly at this stage for some newborns, this condition occurs. Usually, this is visible within the first few days after birth and they can disappear without any treatment. 

2. Sepsis

One of the leading jaundice causes in newborns is sepsis. To put it simply, it occurs if the newborn’s blood system is not in the proper condition. An infection causes what is termed as sepsis, and that leads to jaundice symptoms. This takes some time to emerge in the baby’s appearance. 

3. Internal bleeding

In the case that a newborn has some internal bleeding, this can cause jaundice to appear. One of the most common reasons for this is any form of bruising in the internal organs. Generally, this does not appear instantaneously, and it is hard to catch it beforehand.

4. Biliary Atresia

Out of the different jaundice types, the one visible in infants is oftentimes a result of the condition named biliary atresia. The composition and secretion of bilirubin are indirectly related to the bile duct. This occurs when there is an excess of bile in the human body, and that causes damage. 

To put it simply, the bile goes through the bile duct and moves out into the intestine for its last actions. However, in case the bile ducts near the liver region are blocked, this cannot reach the liver. Also, the organ cannot secrete the bile out into the intestines. 

Due to this scarred bile duct condition (or biliary atresia), the bile inside the liver starts accumulating. And that causes the organ to start damaging, which ultimately leads to loss of liver functioning and cirrhosis. For the prevention of jaundice through this, a good diet and ayurvedic medicines can help. 

5. Viral infection

In case your child is suffering from a bacterial or viral infection, the signs of jaundice can appear.

6. Liver failure or malfunction

Liver diseases are one of the most common reasons behind bilirubin excess. And that is visible in young infants as well. To put it simply, when the liver is going through some infection, it strains to fix itself. But the diseases stop it from working effectively in other functions, and that allows for the bilirubin level to rise. 

Furthermore, sometimes the children are born with unhealthy liver and that makes it prone to more issues. This, too, is a major reason why jaundice symptoms appear in the body of a newborn. Having a jaundice test would help you assess the condition and its subsequent treatment plan better. 

7. Abnormal activity in the RBCs

Red blood cells are important cells that give the blood its reddish color. However, in case there are issues within its composition, it cannot work properly and start breaking down at a faster rate. That would cause problems in the rest of the body. As bilirubin forms after the red blood cells break down, it is directly affected by these abnormalities. 

Consequently, the symptoms of jaundice start appearing on the newborn baby. It is important to note that some herbal medicine can improve the condition of RBCs. You should consider that when you notice the different jaundice types in your newborn, especially in this situation. Self-diagnosis, however, is not the most helpful step, and you should consult a doctor firsthand.

8. Enzyme deficiency

Another possible cause for jaundice in young children is the deficiency in certain enzymes. Notably, this is an inherited condition, and in many cases, genetic in nature. To put it simply, the lack of certain enzymes can affect the composition of some cells in a harmful way.

Consequently, that has a negative effect on the liver functions too and ultimately leads to a yellow coloring on the body. Since newborns still have body functions that take time to develop, these problems can appear.


Overall, most of the reasons for jaundice in young children are not harmful at all and go away within days. There are some home Ayurved treatment for jaundice that do provide help in this situation.

These concern factors mainly within the timeline of 35 weeks of the gestation period and your full term. However, in case it is a result of other underlying diseases that can have big health issues. Thus, it is important that you talk to your doctor when you notice symptoms of jaundice.


In babies, jaundice is caused by too much bilirubin. As red blood cells in the blood break down, bilirubin builds up in the body. As a result, the liver removes bilirubin from the blood.

The majority of the time, newborn jaundice is not harmful. or most babies, jaundice disappears without treatment within one to two weeks. Nevertheless, parents should not take it lightly. Jaundice in infants is caused by bilirubin and excess bilirubin is toxic to brain cells. If your baby is showing symptoms of jaundice, then contact the doctor as soon as possible.

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