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Signs of severe Neonatal Jaundice

Jaundice is the appearance of yellow skin and/or eyes. Sudden urine change to a darker color is a possible sign of hemolysis that could be caused by G6PD deficiency.

Severe neonatal jaundice caused by G6PD deficiency may present itself with any of the following non-specific symptoms:

  • Jaundice below the abdomen
  • Fever
  • Lethargic, very sleepy
  • High-pitched cries
  • Loss of appetite
  • Change of normal muscle tone, too loose and/or too rigid
  • Arching back movements
  • Seizures, convulsions

A True Emergency

Severe neonatal jaundice caused by Hyperbilirubinemia can be extremely dangerous. Hyperbilirubinemia should not be taken lightly. Persistent high levels of bilirubin in the blood may cause progressive to permanent brain damage. Neonatal presentation with any of these abnormal signs is a cause for immediate concern and an urgent visit to a physician or emergency room. A simple blood test can confirm the baby’s bilirubin level, and will prompt immediate intervention if indicated.


  • If a family history of G6PDd, neonatal jaundice, or hyperbilirubinemia is present, tell that to the doctor.
  • If initial test results indicate hyperbilirubinemia, request that treatment begin immediately, even while waiting for retesting. The treatment, phototherapy, is non-invasive, does not harm the baby, can be terminated at any point, and may help avoid the need for a blood transfusion.

Additional Resources

Children’s Mercy Hospital

This document does not represent a comprehensive review of relevant information or recommendations included in the Clinical Practice Guideline released by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Subcommittee of Pediatrics. It is only meant to be a quick summary/reference of useful points.
PICK Parents of Infants and Children with Kernicterus

Prevent Kernicterus

Our babies were born healthy. Mismanaged newborn jaundice then led to a lifetime of disability. The K word happened. Join us. Prevent the K. Cure the K. (Kernicterus can happen when acute bilirubin encephalopathy is allowed to occur.)

Parents of Infants and Children with Kernicterus, PICK, is a parent-run non-profit on a mission to kick the K. Understanding our organization means understanding that Jaundice can cause irreparable harm.

Mismanaged Jaundice caused the K (kernicterus).