Why babies get jaundice

Well known and trusted pediatrician Dr. Jay Gordon offers reassuring advice about why babies get jaundice and what to do if you start noticing symptoms.
Jaundice Signs & Symptoms in Babies
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Why babies get jaundice

Jaundice is a yellowish tinge to the skin in babies or adults, maybe a little yellow tinge to the eyeballs also. It's caused by a little chemical called bilirubin. Bilirubin comes from red blood cells breaking down. In adults, red blood cells are replaced in 120 day cycles, but in newborns, red blood cells are replaced considerably quicker, so there's more bilirubin, more of this yellow dye to be excreted. The liver doesn't excrete bilirubin quite as efficiently in babies. A normal, healthy two or three or five day old baby, is going to have some jaundice. It's normal. It might even be an advantage because bilirubin is an antibacterial compound. Breastfeeding babies have a little more jaundice than formula feeding babies. There may be an advantage. If a baby is sick, if a baby is premature, if a mom is having a lot of trouble breastfeeding, you need to be very, very careful when jaundice is increasing. You need to call your doctor. Healthy, full-term babies during the first week or two can get jaundice, and it doesn't mean that anything is wrong.
BABY, Baby Health

Well known and trusted pediatrician Dr. Jay Gordon offers reassuring advice about why babies get jaundice and what to do if you start noticing symptoms.


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Jay Gordon, MD


Jay Gordon, MD, FAAP, IBCLC - In the middle of his residency training, pediatrician Jay Gordon took an unusual step. Deciding that he needed greater knowledge about nutrition, vitamins, and alternative medicine in order to practice medicine the way he wanted to, Dr. Gordon took a Senior Fellowship in Pediatric Nutrition at Sloan-Kettering Institute in New York City. After his residency at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, Dr. Gordon joined the teaching attending faculty at UCLA Medical Center and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

Intensely interested in infant nutrition and breastfeeding, Dr. Gordon is the first male physician to sit for and pass the International Board of Lactation Certification Exam and has served on the Professional Advisory Board of La Leche League for 24 years.

In addition to treating patients, he participates in the training of medical students and residents, lectures all over the world, writes books, and writes a monthly column for “Fit Pregnancy” magazine. He has contributed to “New York Parent,” “Parenting” magazine and has been quoted in the L.A. Times, New York Times, and The London Times.

Dr. Gordon’s first book, the well-received Good Food Today, Great Kids Tomorrow, offers a life-changing plan for families who want to make dramatic changes in health and fitness through nutrition. Brighter Baby examines the positive effect that attachment parenting, combined with infant massage, has on children’s health and intelligence. Other releases include: Good Night! The Parents’ Guide to the Family Bed and Hug Your Baby, a Gentle Guide through the First Year, which was released summer, 2002. He also authored Listening To Your Baby: A New Approach to Parenting Your Newborn, which still gets great reviews from parents. His most recent book is The ADD and ADHD Cure, the Natural Way to Treat Hyperactivity and Refocus Your Child.

When the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Committee on Television and the Media named Dr. Gordon “the most influential doctor in America,” they were referring, tongue-in-cheek, to Dr. Gordon’s role, as the medical script consultant, in eliminating lollipops from the office of “Doctor Weston,” lead character on the sitcom “Empty Nest.”

After two years of consulting on television scripts, sets, and ideas, Dr. Gordon was named CBS TV’s Medical Consultant for Children’s programming. He also worked for five years on ABC Television as the on-air medical correspondent for the “Home Show,” and continues to consult regularly for television and movies. He’s appeared on Fox 11 News, ABC’s 20/20 and most recently on Larry King Live. 

Dr. Gordon contributed and wrote the forward to Smart Medicine for a Healthy Child and The Encyclopedia of Vitamins and Supplements (both published in 1999), is pediatric consultant for “Fit Pregnancy” magazine and a frequent contributor to “Parents,” “Parenting,” and other media outlets.
 Busy as he is, Dr. Gordon finds that his most challenging job is “being a good husband and the best possible parent to my 22 year-old daughter.”

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