About this disease

What it is about

Bilirubin is a breakdown product of red blood cells and must be eliminated from the bloodstream via the liver. After birth, the fetal liver must take over the breakdown of bilirubin on its own. Due to normal immaturity of the liver, it may take one to two weeks for the liver to fully take over all functions. Premature infants, infants with blood group incompatibility or infants with bruising/pressure sores after vacuum birth are more likely to suffer from neonatal jaundice.

Symptoms and consequences

Symptoms include yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes (sclerae). A very high concentration of bilirubin in the blood can also have a harmful effect on brain development.

What we do for you

Examination and diagnosis

The newborn's bilirubin level is monitored by the midwife, nurse or doctors by means of skin observation and measurement on the skin or in the blood. If the bilirubin rises above a certain level, appropriate measures are initiated.


In most cases, regular observation of the skin and measurement of the bilirubin level are sufficient. Sufficient fluid intake and daylight can bring about a reduction in the bilirubin level. If necessary, special light therapy is used to support the breakdown of bilirubin in the skin. In rare severe cases, a blood transfusion may be necessary.

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