Prolonged Jaundice Clinic

Your child has been given an appointment to the prolonged jaundice clinic.

This provides infomration on why you have been asked to attend and what to expect on the day.

Paediatric Assessment Unit (PAU) Tel: 01473 702198

Bergholt Ward Tel: 01473 702194 or 702195

What is prolonged jaundice?

Jaundice is a common condition in newborn babies. It occurs when there is an excess of bilirubin in the blood which causes a yellow discoloration of the skin and the whites of the eyes. It often looks like a suntan.

In babies with darker skin, it can be noticed in the whites of their eyes, the soles of their feet and the palms of their hands.

Jaundice in babies is a normal and usually temporary condition which often disappears without any treatment, but it can be a sign of a more serious illness.

Jaundice usually disappears without treatment by 10 – 14 days old, but this can take up to 3 weeks in premature babies.

Prolonged jaundice is when the jaundice doesn’t fade after 2 weeks in a full-term baby, and after 3 weeks in a premature baby.

Prolonged jaundice is usually harmless, but can be a sign of a serious liver problem.

Information about Jaundice

The body is continuously making and breaking down red blood cells and bilirubin is a natural pigment produced by the breakdown of these cells. When babies are born they have a higher than normal level of red blood cells and, because there are more red blood cells being broken down, there is more bilirubin being made.

Bilirubin usually passes through the liver and is excreted in baby’s faeces (poo), but sometimes the level of bilirubin in baby’s blood can build up. This is because baby’s developing liver is not yet able to break down the bilirubin fast enough or the level is too high for the liver to manage.

As baby’s liver function matures, the jaundice will go away. This usually takes a couple of weeks but, if your baby was premature, it may take longer.

Most babies with jaundice do not have any other symptoms, but we still need to see them in our clinic.

You should discuss with your health professional if your child has the following:

  • Dark urine (wee)
  • Pale stools (poo) instead of yellow or green
  • Excessively sleepy
  • Not feeding well

The most common type of prolonged jaundice is breast milk jaundice. This is a very common and harmless jaundice, associated with breastfeeding, and it gets better on its own by the age of three months.

Unfortunately there are other possible causes that may need to be treated (for example, an infection or liver disease). So it is very important that we find out why your baby’s jaundice is prolonged.

Your health visitor or midwife has sent us all the necessary details about your baby, including information on how they are feeding and gaining weight, and what colour their stool (poo) and urine (wee) are.

You will have been given an appointment to be seen in the next available clinic. It is important that you attend this clinic.

At the appointment your baby will have a blood test and will be seen by a doctor who will ask you some questions and examine your baby.

If your baby has jaundice for longer than two weeks and also has pale yellow, pale green, chalk white, or clay coloured stools, these are warning signs that your baby could have a rare cause of prolonged jaundice called biliary atresia.

Your doctor will want to see two examples of your babies dirty nappies. You will have received an email with a link to upload two photos of dirty nappies taken 24 hours apart. These will be available for your doctor to see before your appointment.