By Raising Children Network
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Jaundice in older babies and children is rare and can be a sign of liver injury or damage. If your child has jaundice, you’ll notice his skin turning yellowish. The whites of his eyes will be yellow too. Your child needs to see a doctor.

Causes of jaundice

The most common cause of jaundice in older babies and children is an infection of the liver, called hepatitis. Other causes are very rare.

The yellowish skin colour associated with jaundice is because of a bilirubin overload in the body.

Biliriubin is a product of red blood cell breakdown, which is a normal process. Usually, the liver gets rid of bilirubin, and then a processed form of bilirubin goes from the liver to the digestive tract and bowel. Finally, the bilirubin comes out of the body in poo.

When this normal process changes in some way, it can create a bilirubin overload. Possible changes include:

  • the liver being damaged – for example, hepatitis
  • too many red blood cells being broken down – for example, haemolytic anaemia
  • not enough bilirubin moving from the liver to the digestive tract – for example, biliary atresia.
The causes of jaundice in older babies and children are different from the causes of jaundice in newborn babies. This article is about jaundice in older babies and children.

Jaundice symptoms

If your child has jaundice, you’ll notice his skin turning yellowish. The whites of his eyes will be yellow too.

A child with jaundice might also have dark yellow wee and pale-coloured poo. His skin might be itchy.

When to see your doctor about jaundice symptoms

A child with jaundice should always be seen by a doctor regardless of how well she looks. So take your child to the doctor if you’re concerned about her symptoms.

Tests for jaundice

Your doctor might want to do blood tests to check bilirubin levels in your child’s blood, and possibly urine tests as well. In some situations, your doctor might order other tests, such as an abdominal ultrasound.

Treatment for jaundice

The treatment of jaundice depends on how bad it is and what has caused it. You should talk with your doctor about all aspects of your child’s treatment.

 
 
 
  • Last updated or reviewed 14-08-2015