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Treatment will depend on:
Often, the bilirubin level is low (20 mg/dL is the usual normal limit for babies who are over a week old). Sometimes no treatment is needed, other than close follow-up.
Sometimes jaundice is caused by not enough breastfeeding (instead of from the milk itself). Extra fluids are helpful for babies who have not been getting enough breast milk.
To help break down the bilirubin, your child may be placed under special blue lights (phototherapy). If the bilirubin level is not too high or is not rising quickly, you can do phototherapy at home.
If the bilirubin level is above the usual limit and other causes have already been ruled out, the mother can stop nursing for 24 hours to see if the baby's bilirubin level goes down. Giving the baby formula will cause the bilirubin level to drop quickly in babies with breast milk jaundice.
The baby should recover fully with the right monitoring and treatment.
With the right treatment, there are usually no complications. However, babies who do not get the right medical care can have severe effects. High bilirubin levels can be harmful to the baby's brain and other organs.
Babies whose bilirubin levels have been unusually high may need follow-up hearing screening after the newborn period.
Call your health care provider right away if you are breastfeeding and your baby's skin or eyes become yellow (jaundiced).
Moerschel SK, Cianciaruso LB, Tracy LR. A practical approach to neonatal jaundice. Am Fam Physician. 2008;77:1255-1262.
Preer GL, Philipp BL. Understanding and managing breast milk jaundice. Arch Dis Child Fetal Neonatal Ed. doi: 10.1136/adc.2010.184416.
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