Newborn Baby Jaundice Level (Bilirubin Level) Chart

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Medically Reviewed by Dr. Aman Priya Khanna
Written by Charu Shrivastava, last updated on 13 September 2023| min read
Newborn Baby Jaundice Level (Bilirubin Level) Chart

Quick Summary

Jaundice in newborn babies is a common illness that affects many infants during their first few days of life.

Monitoring bilirubin levels using a newborn baby jaundice level chart is important for early detection and timely action when necessary.

Parents must work closely with doctors to ensure their baby's well-being during this essential period.

Jaundice in newborn babies is a common illness that affects many infants during their first few days of life. Monitoring bilirubin levels using a newborn baby jaundice level chart is important for early detection and timely action when necessary. 

Parents must work closely with doctors to ensure their baby's well-being during this essential period. In this blog, we'll look at the newborn baby jaundice level chart, which can help determine the severity of jaundice and take the necessary steps.


Jaundice in Newborns

Jaundice in newborns, also known as neonatal jaundice, is a common medical disease that causes the skin and whites of a baby's eyes to turn yellow. This illness is caused by high bilirubin levels, a yellow pigment produced when red blood cells degrade. Neonatal jaundice is normally harmless and develops within the first few days of life.

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Causes of Jaundice in Newborns

To enable timely and proper management, both parents and healthcare practitioners must understand the causes of newborn jaundice. The following are the major causes to consider:

  1. Physiological Jaundice: This is the most common cause of infant jaundice. It commonly emerges during the first few days of life and is caused by the baby's undeveloped liver. It may take a few days for the newborn's liver to process bilirubin effectively.

  2. Breastfeeding Jaundice: This condition occurs when a newborn does not receive enough breast milk during the first few days of life. Dehydration can result in impairing the liver's ability to handle bilirubin. Making sure the baby is getting enough food can generally cure this type of jaundice.

  3. Breast Milk Jaundice: This type of jaundice arises after the first week of life and is caused by specific compounds in breast milk that can block bilirubin breakdown. Breast milk jaundice is normally safe and resolves on its own, but it might last for weeks.

  4. Haemolysis: In some situations, jaundice is caused by the breakdown of red blood cells, which releases an excess of bilirubin into the bloodstream. This can arise due to newborn hemolytic illness or blood group incompatibility between the infant and mother.

  5. Infection: Jaundice in a baby might be a symptom of infection, such as sepsis. Infections have the potential to impair the liver's ability to metabolise bilirubin.

  6. Liver Disease: Although uncommon, certain liver diseases can cause infant jaundice. Biliary atresia, for example, can impair the flow of bile from the liver, resulting in jaundice.

  7. Genetic Disorders: In some situations, jaundice may be caused by underlying genetic diseases that alter bilirubin metabolism, such as Gilbert syndrome.

Signs and Symptoms of Jaundice in Newborns

Newborn jaundice is distinguished by a yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes. While this is the most visible indicator, newborn jaundice can be accompanied by several additional signs and symptoms. Here are some common signs and symptoms of neonatal jaundice:

  1. Yellowing of the Skin: The most visible symptom is a yellow colouring of the baby's skin. It typically begins on the face and extends to the chest, belly, and limbs.

  2. Yellowing of the Eyes: Icterus is a condition in which the whites of the baby's eyes turn yellow.

  3. Yellowing of Mucous Membranes: Jaundice can affect the mucous membranes within the baby's mouth and the roof of the mouth (palate).

  4. Feeding Difficulties: Some newborns with jaundice may have trouble feeding and be less interested in nursing or drinking from a bottle. They may also exhibit signs of lethargy and weakness. This could be due to the baby's overall health and discomfort.

  5. Dark Urine: The baby's urine may appear dark yellow or amber in colour. This indicates increased bilirubin levels.

  6. Pale Stools: Jaundice can cause the baby's stool to turn pale or clay-coloured instead of the usual yellowish colour. This is due to bilirubin not being processed and eliminated adequately in the faeces.

  7. Irritability: Some babies with jaundice may be irritable and fussy due to discomfort or other symptoms.

  8. High-Pitched Crying: In extreme episodes of jaundice, the baby may cry out in a high-pitched tone, indicating neurological involvement.

Understanding Bilirubin Levels

Bilirubin is a yellow pigment created by the body when it breaks down old red blood cells. It is processed by the liver and eliminated in the bile. Bilirubin levels in the blood are an essential measure of liver function and can be linked to illnesses like jaundice. Understanding bilirubin levels and their relevance is essential in diagnosing and monitoring a variety of medical disorders. 

Newborns have higher bilirubin levels than adults because their livers are still developing. The typical bilirubin level of an infant is less than 5 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). In neonates that were born prematurely, levels might be a little higher.

A simple blood test is used by healthcare providers to assess bilirubin levels in neonates. A tiny blood sample is frequently collected from the baby's heel to determine the bilirubin level. Healthcare practitioners may recommend treatment or additional monitoring depending on the level and age of the baby.

Newborn Baby Jaundice Level Chart

In infants, bilirubin levels are usually measured in milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) or micromoles per litre (mol/L). The decision to treat neonatal jaundice or monitor the newborn baby jaundice level chart is influenced by the baby's age, risk factors, and bilirubin levels. 

By placing a probe on a baby's head, the baby's healthcare professional can measure his or her bilirubin level. The transcutaneous bilirubin (TcB) level is determined by this test. If this level is elevated, the doctor will conduct a blood test to confirm the results. They will prick the baby's heel to obtain a little blood sample. The total serum bilirubin (TSB) level is determined through a blood test.

According to the American Academy of Paediatrics, the following is a basic newborn baby jaundice level chart. It is in accordance with the age and total serum bilirubin level of the infant.

Total serum bilirubin (TSB) level

Age of newborn

Above 10 milligrams

Less than 24 hours old

Above 15 milligrams

24 to 48 hours old

Above 18 milligrams

49 to 72 hours old

Above 20 milligrams

Older than 72 hours

Parents must work actively with medical professionals to monitor the newborn baby jaundice level chart. It's important to seek medical assistance if there are concerns about jaundice in a baby. High bilirubin levels that are left untreated can result in serious complications, including neurological issues. To understand the level of risk, please refer to the chart below.

Bilirubin Level in Newborn

It's important to remember that the aforementioned guidelines are standard and may change depending on the healthcare facility and location. The decision to treat may also be influenced by the presence of clinical signs and symptoms, such as the baby's general health and degree of jaundice.

Treatment of Jaundice in Newborns

The treatment of newborn jaundice is generally targeted at lowering elevated bilirubin levels to avoid potential problems. This is essential when bilirubin levels have reached excessively high. Here are some popular neonatal jaundice treatments:

  1. Phototherapy: It is the most commonly used treatment for neonatal jaundice. It entails exposing the baby's skin to special blue or white lights. This aids in the breakdown of bilirubin into a form that can be expelled more easily. During phototherapy, the baby may only wear a nappy and protective eyewear. This treatment is often administered in a hospital. But it can also be administered at home with specialized equipment under physician supervision.

  2. Frequent Feeding: Nursing the baby frequently can increase the frequency and amount of bowel motions. This can be done through breastfeeding or formula feeding. It helps in the elimination of bilirubin from the body via the stool.

  3. Hydration: It is essential to keep the baby hydrated, especially if breastfeeding is established. Adequate hydration can aid in preventing dehydration, which can exacerbate jaundice.

  4. Exchange Transfusion: An exchange transfusion may be required in severe cases of jaundice or when bilirubin levels touch a dangerous level. To rapidly lower bilirubin levels, a portion of the baby's blood is taken out and replaced with donor blood. Exchange transfusions are usually reserved for severe or rapidly worsening illnesses and are done in a hospital.

  5. Treating Underlying Causes: If the jaundice is caused by blood type incompatibility, hemolysis, or an underlying medical problem, the underlying cause may need to be treated. This could include infection treatment, hemolytic disease treatment, or disease management.

  6. Medications: When other therapies are ineffective, or the jaundice is caused by a specific ailment, healthcare providers may consider using drugs such as phenobarbital or intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) to assist in lower bilirubin levels.

Early detection and treatment of jaundice are essential for avoiding potential complications such as kernicterus. It is a rare but severe neurological disorder that can occur from untreated acute jaundice. If parents see escalating jaundice or if their baby exhibits any signs of acute discomfort or neurological problems, they should seek immediate medical attention.

Takeaway

Jaundice in neonates is often managed and treated based on a mix of criteria, such as the baby's age, risk factors, and bilirubin levels. To give the best possible treatment for their infant, parents should follow the instructions and guidelines provided by their healthcare team.

You can contact HexaHealth for more information on newborn baby jaundice level charts. At HexaHealth, we aim to bridge the gap between patients and multiple healthcare facilities. So, schedule your consultation today!

Suggested Reads

  1. SGPT and SGOT Levels in Jaundice
  2. Bilirubin Test in Hindi
  3. Jaundice in pregnancy

Frequently Asked Questions

Jaundice occurs in newborns because their young livers are less efficient in processing bilirubin, a yellow pigment produced when red blood cells degrade. As a result, bilirubin levels may temporarily rise, creating the distinctive yellowing of the skin and eyes, known as jaundice.

Jaundice in infants is often detected by looking for yellowing in the baby's skin and eyes. Bilirubin levels can be validated with a blood test, often taken via a heel prick or venipuncture. This helps to identify the severity of the jaundice and guide treatment recommendations.

A newborn baby jaundice level chart is important because it assists healthcare providers in monitoring and managing neonatal jaundice. It specifies when bilirubin levels should be measured and when therapy may be required to avoid problems.

Here's a normal bilirubin levels in newborns chart, categorised by age:

Age (Days)

Normal Bilirubin Level (mg/dL)

Day 1

Less than 5.2 mg/dL

Day 2

Less than 15 mg/dL

Day 3

Less than 18 mg/dL

Day 4

Less than 20 mg/dL

Bilirubin levels in neonates are commonly determined by a blood test, which often involves taking a small sample from the baby's heel. The results are then evaluated using a chart that considers the baby's age to assess whether the bilirubin levels are normal.

Yes, a range of bilirubin levels is considered safe for babies which is usually less than 15 mg/dL.

Yes, there may be differences in the charts and guidelines for newborn baby jaundice levels in different areas, including India. Local healthcare authorities and medical institutions may have their own reference ranges and standards to manage infant jaundice. This can be influenced by factors such as population demographics and healthcare resources.

Bilirubin levels should be checked every 24 to 48 hours during the first few days of life. Thereafter, it should be monitored as needed until the jaundice cures or stabilises. Consult a healthcare expert for specific advice depending on your baby's circumstances.

The potential risks associated with high bilirubin levels in newborns are:

  1. Kernicterus

  2. Brain damage

  3. Hearing loss

  4. Seizures

  5. Developmental delays

  6. Intellectual disabilities

The bilirubin level chart assists in determining the need for therapy by providing guidelines on tolerable bilirubin levels based on a newborn's age. If a newborn's bilirubin level exceeds the chart's recommended threshold for their age, it signals an increased risk of problems.

Factors that can affect bilirubin levels in newborns are:

  1. Gestational age

  2. Haemolysis (breakdown of red blood cells)

  3. Blood type incompatibility between mother and baby

  4. Prematurity

  5. Sepsis (infection)

  6. Certain medications or drugs taken by the mother

  7. Breastfeeding-related issues (e.g., inadequate milk intake)

Age (Days)

Explanation

Day 1

Bilirubin levels are low at birth and gradually rise as the baby's liver begins to process bilirubin.

Day 2

Levels start to increase, but this range is still considered within the normal range for most newborns.

Day 3

Bilirubin levels continue to rise as the baby's liver matures. Some babies may begin to show signs of jaundice at this stage.

Day 4

Levels may continue to increase, but the range remains within the normal limit for many newborns.

Day 5 onward

In a healthy-term newborn, bilirubin levels peak on 5-7 days and then start to decrease and return to normal levels.

The normal bilirubin level in 24 hours is 0.3-1.0 mg/dl. Therefore, a bilirubin level of 7.5 mg/dL in a newborn is considered elevated and may require monitoring or therapy. Consult with a healthcare expert for a more accurate diagnosis and treatment.

A bilirubin level of 13 mg/dL in a baby is relatively high and may necessitate monitoring and possibly treatment. The normal bilirubin level in 24 hours is 0.3-1.0 mg/dl. It is important to speak with a doctor for an accurate assessment and suitable management.

Yes, natural sunshine exposure can help lessen neonatal jaundice. Sunlight helps convert bilirubin into a more water-soluble form that the body can remove. This should, however, be done under medical supervision.

To reduce your baby's jaundice at home, ensure they are well-fed through breastfeeding or formula feeding. However, it is essential to seek medical advice on how to manage your baby's jaundice.

Vitamin D is not a direct treatment for infant jaundice. Jaundice in neonates is primarily treated with phototherapy and, if present, by addressing underlying causes.

Yes, bathing or showering is safe for those with jaundice. Bathing does not impact the management or evolution of jaundice because it is a blood and liver disorder.

Yes, breast milk may affect jaundice in neonates. Breast milk jaundice is a kind of jaundice that can be produced or exacerbated by certain chemicals in breast milk.

References

All the articles on HexaHealth are supported by verified medically-recognized sources such as; peer-reviewed academic research papers, research institutions, and medical journals. Our medical reviewers also check references of the articles to prioritize accuracy and relevance. Refer to our detailed editorial policy for more information.


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  2. Infant jaundice - Symptoms and causes [Internet]. Mayo Clinic. link
  3. Jaundice in Newborns | Types, Symptoms & Treatment [Internet]. www.cincinnatichildrens.org. link
  4. Kaplan M. Genetic Interactions in the Pathogenesis of Neonatal Hyperbilirubinemia: Gilbert’s Syndrome and Glucose-6-Phosphate Dehydrogenase Deficiency. Journal of Perinatology. 2001 Dec;21(S1):S30–4.link
  5. NHS Choices. Symptoms -Newborn jaundice [Internet]. NHS. 2020. link
  6. Ullah S, Rahman K, Hedayati M. Hyperbilirubinemia in Neonates: Types, Causes, Clinical Examinations, Preventive Measures and Treatments: A Narrative Review Article. Iranian journal of public health [Internet]. 2016;45(5):558–68. link
  7. Cleveland Clinic. Jaundice in Newborns: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment [Internet]. Cleveland Clinic. 2022. link
  8. Bilirubin test - Mayo Clinic [Internet]. www.mayoclinic.org. link
  9. Nsw.gov.au. 2021. link
  10. Redirect Notice [Internet]. Google.com. 2023 [cited 2023 Sep 13]. link
  11. Guidelines for Phototherapy [Internet]. Newborn Nursery. link
  12. Services D of H & H. Jaundice in babies [Internet]. www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au. [cited 2023 Sep 13]. link
  13. Berska J, Bugajska J, Sztefko K. Newborns bilirubin concentration determined by different methods in relation to hematocrit and albumin level. Journal of Medical Biochemistry. 2019 Jul 13;0(0).link
  14. staff familydoctor org editorial. Infant Jaundice - Symptoms - Causes [Internet]. familydoctor.org. 2020 [cited 2023 Sep 13]. link

Updated on : 13 September 2023

Disclaimer: The information provided here is for educational and learning purposes only. It doesn't cover every medical condition and might not be relevant to your personal situation. This information isn't medical advice, isn't meant for diagnosing any condition, and shouldn't replace talking to a certified medical or healthcare professional.

Reviewer

Dr. Aman Priya Khanna

Dr. Aman Priya Khanna

MBBS, DNB General Surgery, Fellowship in Minimal Access Surgery, FIAGES

12 Years Experience

Dr Aman Priya Khanna is a well-known General Surgeon, Proctologist and Bariatric Surgeon currently associated with HealthFort Clinic, Health First Multispecialty Clinic in Delhi. He has 12 years of experience in General Surgery and worke...View More

Author

Charu Shrivastava

Charu Shrivastava

BSc. Biotechnology I MDU and MSc in Medical Biochemistry (HIMSR, Jamia Hamdard)

2 Years Experience

Skilled in SEO and passionate about creating informative and engaging medical content. Her proofreading and content writing for medical websites is impressive. She creates informative and engaging content that educ...View More

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