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From Nemours' KidsHealth
- Urine Test: Dipstick
- Kidneys and Urinary Tract
- Kidney Diseases in Childhood
- Definition: Kidney
- When Your Child Has a Chronic Kidney Disease
- Urine Test: Calcium
- Urine Test: Creatinine
- Urine Test: Microalbumin-to-Creatinine Ratio
- Urine Test: Protein
- X-Ray Exam: Voiding Cystourethrogram (VCUG)
- A to Z: Ureterocele
- Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections and Related Conditions
- Ultrasound: Renal (Kidneys, Ureters, Bladder)
- Urinary Tract Infections
- Wilms Tumor
- What Can I Do About My Child's Bedwetting?
- Urine Test: 24-Hour Analysis for Kidney Stones
- Blood Test: Hepatic (Liver) Function Panel
- Blood Test: Bilirubin
- A to Z: Jaundice
- A to Z: Atresia, Biliary
- Liver Tumors
- Jaundice in Healthy Newborns
- A to Z: Postoperative Infection
- When Your Child Needs a Liver Transplant
- When Your Child Needs a Kidney Transplant
- Relaxation Techniques for Children With Serious Illness
- Stem Cell Transplants
- Aspiration and Biopsy: Bone Marrow
Trusted External Resources
A to Z: Jaundice
A to Z: Jaundice
May also be called: Icterus
More to Know
Bilirubin is produced by the normal breakdown of red blood cells (RBCs). Ordinarily, bilirubin passes through the liver and is discharged as bile in the intestines. Jaundice occurs when bilirubin builds up faster than the liver can break it down and pass it from the body. This can happen if too many RBCs are breaking down and going to the liver, if the liver is damaged or blocked, or if bilirubin doesn't pass through the digestive tract properly.
Jaundice, which isn't painful, can be caused by many things (such as infections and blood disorders) or be a sign of a problem with the liver, gallbladder, or pancreas.
High levels of bilirubin can lead to serious complications if they go untreated for too long. Jaundice is most common among newborn babies and people with liver infections, gallstones, or substance abuse issues.
Keep in Mind
All cases of jaundice should be evaluated by a doctor. Treatment will depend on its cause — often, particularly with newborns, the cause is something harmless and the jaundice will clear up on its own.
All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.
Date reviewed: September 26, 2016