Symptoms and Risk Factors for Infant Jaundice

Infant jaundice as defined in our earlier post, is a condition characterised by yellowing of a newborn baby’s skin and sometimes the white part of their eyes and it is usually caused by excess bilirubin in the baby’s bloodstream.

The major symptom of jaundice is a yellowing of the baby’s eyes and skin, also there are risks factors that you need to know about. Today, we will be examining the symptoms and risk factors for infant jaundice.


The major symptom of jaundice is a yellow discoloration in the baby’s skin or the whites of the eyes.

However, there are other symptoms to watch out for, especially if the jaundice is severe. These symptoms include :

  • Poor feeding
  • More yellowing of baby’s skin especially around the arms, abdomen and limbs
  • High-pitched cry
  • Listlessness
  • Drowsiness
  • Sluggishness
  • Inability to gain weight
  • Jaundice lasts over three weeks

If these symptoms are noticed, it is important to report the case immediately to your doctor.

Also, if your baby is discharged earlier than three days following birth, ensure that you fix a follow-up appointment to look for jaundice within two days of discharge.

Risk Factors

A risk factor is something that increases the likelihood of developing a condition. For example, alcohol consumption increases the risk of developing liver malfunction – therefore, alcohol is a risk factor for liver failure.

Some common risk factors for infant jaundice are:

1. Premature birth – premature babies have severely underdeveloped organs, which cause slow filtering and infrequent excretion of bilirubin.

2. Poor/Lack of Breastfeeding – babies who do not get enough nutrients or calories from breast milk are more likely to develop jaundice.

3. Rhesus incompatibility – this occurs when the blood type of mother and baby are different. The mother’s antibodies attack the red blood cells of the fetus through the placenta, thus causing accelerated break down.

Treating this may require blood transfusion.

The best way to reduce jaundice is to ensure that your baby gets enough to eat. That will help your baby’s body get rid of the extra bilirubin.

In summary, check out for symptoms of jaundice on your baby’s body few days after birth, taking note of the risk factors. Contact your baby’s doctor immediately if any symptoms is noticed.

If you like to know the basics on Jaundice, kindly check the post on it here. You can also click here to ask questions

Quick question: Which medium would you regard as the best in raising the awareness of infant jaundice in Nigeria? Please answer or leave a comment in the comment section below.