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Jaundice

Jaundice is a condition that affects more than half of all newborns. This common illness is caused by a build-up of a substance called bilirubin (the byproduct of extra red blood cells breaking down in your baby's system). Babies with jaundice will have a yellowish tint to their skin and eyes.

Look for these Symptoms:

• Yellowish skin and eyes

• Sleepy

• Loss of appetite

Prevention:

• Breastfeed as soon as possible after birth

• Breastfeed on demand, at least 10-12 times in 24 hour period

• Do not use supplements

Jaundice usually lasts for short periods of time and is generally harmless. For example, mild jaundice may appear during the first week after birth and clear up on its own within a few days. Although jaundice in newborns is normal, it is very important that you involve your baby's health care provider in monitoring the situation and decreasing the amount of bilirubin. Blood tests and phototherapy (treatment with a special light) may be necessary.

Formula will bring bilirubin numbers down faster than human milk; however, formula comes with a variety of long- and short-term problems and formula-fed babies will miss out on the enormous benefits of breastfeeding. Your breast milk is valuable to your baby and you should continue to breastfeed under the care of your baby's health care provider.

Treatment:

• Continue to breastfeed often, 10-12 times in a 24 hour period, waking him every 2 hours during the day

- Most cases clear up with adequate breast milk

- Breast milk stimulates bowel movements, which will clear excess bilirubin from the baby's body

• Phototherapy may be used to help break down the bilirubin

Click here to learn more about jaundice.