Side Effects of High Bilirubin Levels in Newborns

Once the baby gets born, there are a lot of professionals closely monitoring him to make sure that everything is alright. If the baby has high bilirubin levels, the side effects of high bilirubin levels in newborns may appear which means that the baby will have jaundice. This is normal in the majority of the cases.


Jaundice means that the skin and the white of the eyes of the baby have a yellow tint. Usually jaundice first appears on the face and then it spreads on the chest, abdomen, legs, and arms.

The problem is easier to notice on fair skinned babies. If the doctor thinks that there might be something wrong with the baby, he or she will order blood tests. It is important to remember that jaundice isn’t a disease. It is one of the side effects of high bilirubin levels in newborns.

Side Effects of High Bilirubin Levels in Newborns


As mentioned above, jaundice is caused by high bilirubin levels. This is a very common occurrence and jaundice affects about 60% of all babies. Bilirubin is produced by normal blood cells and it is removed by the liver. If the liver of the baby cannot work efficiently, jaundice will appear.

No Worries

It is natural to worry when there seems to be anything wrong with the baby, but you should keep in mind that as the baby grows and the red blood cell levels get lower, the jaundice will get better with no permanent effects on the baby. It usually takes 1-2 weeks before the baby’s skin color returns to normal.

Is it Harmful?

The more serious negative effects of high bilirubin levels can occur if the problem isn’t treated and the bilirubin levels exceed 25 mg. In this case, the baby may be affected by cerebral palsy, different kinds of brain damage, and even deafness. Jaundice itself doesn’t cause any harm to the baby.


Another one of the side effects of high bilirubin levels in newborns is sleepiness. In this case, it is highly likely that the baby won’t eat well, which will make the jaundice even worse. This is why it is important to check the sleeping patterns of the baby.


If the adverse effects of high bilirubin levels in newborns appear, there are different treatment options. One of them is to feed the baby frequently for the little one to have bowel movements which will clear out some of the bilirubin. Phototherapy can also help lower the levels of bilirubin and get rid of the side effects of high bilirubin levels in newborns.


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