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Neonatal Jaundice: Background, Pathophysiology, Etiology

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Medical Definition of Physiologic jaundice of the newborn

Physiologic jaundice of the newborn: Yellowish staining of the skin and whites of the newborn’s eyes (sclerae) by pigment of bile (bilirubin). In newborn babies a degree of jaundice is normal. It is due to the breakdown of red blood cells (which release bilirubin into the blood) and to the immaturity of the newborn’s liver (which cannot effectively metabolize the bilirubin and prepare it for excretion into the urine). Normal physiologic jaundice of the newborn typically appears between the 2nd and 5th days of life and clears with time.

Physiologic jaundice of the newborn is also referred to as neonatal hyperbilirubinemia and neonatal jaundice.

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Last Editorial Review: 5/13/2016

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