Just how long should jaundice last in a breastfed baby? Should we jump to intervene after 1 week, 2 weeks, 3 weeks?

Researchers (1) have shown that it is normal for 20% to 30% of predominantly breastfed newborns to be jaundiced at 3 to 4 weeks and for 30% to 40% of these infants to have bilirubin levels that exceed 5 mg/dl. While visual estimates of jaundice are not conclusive, scleral icterus (yellowing of the whites of the eyes) observed by parents or clinicians may indicate significant hyperbilirubinemia (jaundice) and should be followed up with total serum bilirubin measurement (2).

1. Maisels MJ, et al. The natural history of jaundice in predominantly breastfed infants. Pediatrics 2014; 134:e340-e345

2. Azzuqa A, Watchko JF. Scleral (conjunctival) icterus in neonates: A marker of significant hyperbilirubinemia. E-PAS. 2013;3841.708