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Newborn jaundice is not as dangerous as we thought 20 years ago.  We used to start  phototherapy at 12 where now we start treating it at 19 blood level of bilirubin (jaundice).  It is more severe in breast fed babies and infants with uncommon blood disorders.  It is helped by indirect light from a window.  It is also lowered by giving one bottle of formula a day in the evenings (it will not turn them off to breast feeding.)  Jaundice hits itís peak usually around 3-4 days of age but there are exceptions.  A small amount of jaundice can persist for 2 months with breast fed babies.  There are rare liver disorders that can cause increased jaundice at 6-8 weeks of age.  The face and chest get yellow at very low levels of jaundice.  Press on the bottom of their feet and then release it.  If that area of their feet that you pressed on looks yellow then call to get a blood test on the baby to see if it is real high.

Then the babies get yellow around 9-15 months old from the yellow vegetables.  Their eyes are not yellow and this in not jaundice.  It is Carotenemia from the carotene (Vit. A) found in squash, carrots and sweet potatoes. This is not dangerous and does not need to be treated.  Older children who get hepatitis A hardly ever turn jaundiced.  They have an upset stomach for a week and get over it.  The main reason I diagnose it in children is so I can give a shot to the parents to prevent them from getting it.  Although a mild illness in children, it is very serious in adults and 1/500 die!  Like many illnesses, it is usually worse in adults.  Ever seen chicken pox in a child verses an adult.  Just like the Flu:  30+ children die of the flu in all of America, but 35,000 adults die of the flu every year.  The press can scare you more with the children than with adults dieing.  We now recommend the vaccine of Hepatitis A for those living in the counties of Texas that boarder Mexico and those children and adults going to underdeveloped countries for a while. 

Dr. Knapp