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What causes jaundice?

Newborn jaundice is usually caused by the newborn's inability to effectively clear bilirubin which is a breakdown product of red blood cells. The excess bilirubin leads to the jaundce appearance that is common in newborns. This will clear in about two weeks when the baby's liver matures enough to allow the baby to clear the jaundice. This is called physiologic jaundice and will resolve on its own. In some cases, jaundice can be caused by serious conditions such as prematurity, infection, abnormal breakdown of red blood cells, and liver problems.
John A. Chabot
Endocrinology Diabetes & Metabolism

When the bile duct becomes blocked -- for any reason -- jaundice can occur.

Jaundice typically occurs in pancreatic cancer when a tumor in the head of the pancreas first narrows and then obstructs the common bile duct, blocking the flow of bile.

Gallstones, are a common cause of jaundice. Gallstones can also block the bile duct. Other causes of jaundice that are not obstructive include liver diseases like hepatitis and cirrhosis, and other conditions that cause red blood cells to break down too quickly.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.