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Newborn and Infant Care

Bilirubin levels



My fullterm baby was born 3 days ago, they had to perform an emergency C-Section because I could not have her vaginally. Her heart rate dropped extremely low. Yesterday, her bilirubin level was 13 and today it is 14.3. They are keeping her in the hospital and giving her phototherapy. Is this a high level and what are the risks of the bilirubin being at this level?


An elevated bilirubin is very common in infants. Depending on the research you read, 50% or more of the full term infants will experience this. The bilirubin is a result of the breakdown of the red blood cells, and in order for it to be excreted by the body its form must change from a fat based to a water based form. The jaundice that you see is due to this elevated fat based form. The bilirubin will peak about 5 days of age, and then generally drop after that. The level of 14.3 is high, but not excessively high in a term infant, and your child is under treatment. Generally after a couple days of phototherapy, the bilirubin begins to decrease, and will soon return to normal. Specific questions about your child should be asked to her health care provider.

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Response by:

Tina   Weitkamp, RNC, MSN Tina Weitkamp, RNC, MSN
Associate Professor of Clinical Nursing
College of Nursing
University of Cincinnati