Skip to main content

Newborn jaundice and biliary atresia


In the first days after birth, a newborn may have jaundice. Jaundice is a condition where the baby's skin and the whites of their eyes look yellow. Newborn jaundice is common and in most healthy babies is not serious and does not need treatment. If your baby is jaundiced, make sure your baby is feeding well, at least every 3 hours. If your baby is sleepy during feeds try unwrapping, and feeding skin to skin.

Signs of Jaundice

To check your baby for jaundice:

  • Hold your baby in natural light, for example near a window

  • Look to see if the white part of your baby's eyes looks yellow

  • Gently press your fingertip on your baby's forehead, nose, chest, arms and legs. If these areas look yellow or orange when you pull your finger away then there is jaundice

When to Get Help for Jaundice

Call your health care provider if:

  • You see jaundice in the legs, palms of hands or soles of feet

  • Your baby is not waking to feed, not feeding at least 8 times in 24 hours, or latching is painful

  • At 4 days of age, your baby is having less than 2–3 stools each day

  • Your baby's jaundice lasts longer than 3 weeks

Use this resource to learn more about newborn jaundice:

Biliary Atresia

Biliary atresia is a rare but serious liver disease that begins to affect newborns in the first month of life. It is the most common reason why children need a liver transplant. It is life-threatening if it is not treated.

Signs of Biliary Atresia

  • If your baby has jaundice for longer than two weeks AND

  • Has pale yellow, pale green, chalk white, or clay coloured stools

SOURCE: Newborn jaundice and biliary atresia ( )
Page printed:

Copyright © Vancouver Coastal Health. All Rights Reserved.