Treatments for Jaundice in Children

While jaundice cannot be prevented completely, early recognition and treatment are important in keeping bilirubin from rising to dangerous levels. Treatment of jaundice depends on many factors, including the cause and level of bilirubin. The ultimate goal of all treatment is to keep the level of bilirubin from increasing to dangerous levels.

Treatment may include: 

  • Phototherapy:
    • special therapy using blue spectrum light to reduce biliubin levels
    • may take several hours throughout the day and night
    • baby's position is changed frequently to allow full skin exposure
    • baby's eyes must be protected and temperature monitored
    • Blood levels of bilirubin are monitored to determine success.
  • Fiberoptic blanket:
    • form of phototherapy in which fiberoptic blanket is placed under the baby
    • can be used alone or in combination with standard phototherapy
  • Exchange transfusion:
    • alternating giving and withdrawing blood in small amounts through a baby's vein or artery
    • helps increase red blood cell count and lower levels of bilirubin
    • may need to be repeated if bilirubin levels remain high
  • Discontinued breastfeeding:
    • stopping breastfeeding for one or two days and giving the baby formula
    • Breastfeeding can be resumed after bilirubin levels are lower.

Treatment of underlying conditions:

  • treating infection and other underlying conditions