What Does Infant Jaundice Have to Do with Breastfeeding?
Many newborn babies develop a yellowish color to the whites of their eyes and their skin, a condition known as jaundice. Parents often wonder about the significance of newborn jaundice. In adults, jaundice rarely occurs and represents an important sign of illness, such as hepatitis. Jaundice in adults must never be ignored; its cause always must be investigated. Unlike adults, some degree of jaundice is evident in nearly half of all newborns, usually by the third day of life. Most cases of newborn jaundice are mild and require no treatment. The yellow color results from a substance known as bilirubin, a breakdown product of hemoglobin, which is present in red blood cells. Normally, the liver metabolizes bilirubin and excretes it in a modified form into the intestines where it gets passed from the body in bowel movements. Many factors contribute to higher bilirubin levels in newborns during the first week of life. First, babies are born with more red blood cells than adults and these ce