Baby jaundice

Jaundice is very common in newborn babies. Up to 80% of newborn babies will become jaundiced two or three days after birth. Jaundice reaches its peak at about four days of life and then gradually disappears in most babies by the time they are two weeks old. Jaundice does not necessarily mean your baby is ill.

Jaundice is caused by your baby having an increased level of bilirubin in their blood. It is important that jaundice is monitored to ensure that the bilirubin level does not get too high.


Prolonged Jaundice

Sometimes jaundice continues after the baby is 14 days old in a full-term baby and 21 days in a premature baby.  It is vital that the following is carried out:

Check the colour of your baby’s poo

  • The poo of a breast fed baby should be green/daffodil yellow colour
  • The poo of a bottle fed baby should be green/English mustard colour

If your baby’s poo is pale looks pale or chalky you must report this to your midwife or health visitor immediately. It could be a sign of liver disease.


Check the colour of your baby’s urine (wee)

  • The urine of a newly born baby should be colourless

If your baby’s urine is yellow and/or the poo is pale this can indicate liver disease and you must report this to your midwife, health visitor or doctor.  Do not wait until after 14 days if you notice this before.


What needs to be done?

It is important that your baby has a blood test called a split bilirubin blood test.  This test measures the ratio of the conjugated and unconjugated bilirubin levels in your baby’s blood.   If the conjugated fraction is greater than 20% of the total bilirubin it indicates liver disease.  Your baby should be referred to a specialist paediatric liver unit for further investigation.

You’ll find more information in CLDF’s leaflets on baby jaundice:


This website provides general information but does not replace medical advice. It is important to contact your/your child’s medical team if you have any worries or concerns