Newborn Jaundice and Biliary Atresia

In the first few days after birth, a newborn may have jaundice, a condition where their skin and the whites of their eyes look yellow. Newborn jaundice is common and in most healthy babies is not serious and does not need treatment. If your baby is jaundiced, make sure your baby is feeding well, at least every 3 hours. If your baby is sleepy during feeds try unwrapping, and feeding skin to skin.

To check your baby for jaundice
• hold your baby in natural light, for example near a window
• look to see if the white part of your baby’s eyes looks yellow
• gently press your fingertip on your baby’s forehead, nose, chest, arms and legs. If these areas look yellow or orange when you pull your finger away then there is jaundice

Call your health care provider if
• you see jaundice in the legs, palms of hands or soles of feet
• your baby is not waking to feed, is not feeding at least 8 times in 24 hours or latching is painful
• at 4 days of age, your baby is having less than 2–3 stools each day
• your baby’s jaundice lasts longer than 3 weeks

Learn more about newborn jaundice in English, Chinese, Farsi, Punjabi, and Vietnamese

Biliary atresia is a rare but serious liver disease that begins to affect newborns in the first month of life. It is the most common reason why children need a liver transplant, and it is life-threatening if it is not treated.. If your baby has jaundice for longer than two weeks and also has pale yellow, pale green, chalk white, or clay coloured stools, these are warning signs that your baby could have biliary atresia.

Learn more about biliary atresia.