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Wednesday 26th October 2016

All babies to be checked for jaundice

19th May 2010

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has said it wants to see all babies at risk of jaundice to have blood tests to diagnose the condition.


The guidance from NICE said NHS staff should use the tests rather than relying on instincts to determine whether a newborn had jaundice or not.

In most cases the condition does not cause problems, but it can lead to a kernicterus (a type of brain damage) in serious cases.

Jaundice is very common in newborn babies, with 80% of premature infants and 60% of full-term babies being diagnosed with it in their first week.

Bilirubin levels rise in newborn because the baby's liver is not fully capable of getting rid of waste from the body.

The baby's skin and eyes can take on a yellow colour. In serious cases, kernicterus can lead to cerebral palsy, deafness and death. It affects around 12 babies annually in the UK.

NICE said all newborns should be examined for signs of the condition in the first 72 hours of life and tests should be done every six hours if a baby was thought to have jaundice.

Dr Fergus Macbeth, director of the Centre for Clinical Practice at NICE, said: "The majority of babies will develop jaundice in their first week of life and it will be generally harmless in most cases."

"Although the condition does have the potential to become serious, it can usually be easily treated with timely and appropriate medical care. This guideline will ensure that happens." 


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