Jaundice is one of the most common conditions needing medical attention in newborn babies. Jaundice refers to yellow colouration of the skin and the sclerae and is caused by a raised level of bilirubin in the circulation, a condition known as hyperbilirubinaemia.
Approximately 60% of term and 80% of preterm babies develop jaundice in the first week of life, and about 10% of breastfed babies are still jaundiced at 1 month of age. In most babies early jaundice is harmless. However, a few babies will develop very high levels of bilirubin, which can be harmful if not treated.
Clinical recognition and assessment of jaundice can be difficult, particularly in babies with dark skin tones. Once jaundice is recognised, there is uncertainty about when to treat, and there is widespread variation in the use of phototherapy and exchange transfusion. This guideline provides guidance on the recognition, assessment and treatment of neonatal jaundice in babies from birth to 28 days.