Sample research paper on pediatrics: Neonatal Jaundice

Jaundice is derived from the French word ‘jaune’. The meaning of jaune is ‘yellow’. Neonatal jaundice may have been described for the first time in a Chinese textbook written one thousand years ago. Medical theses, textbooks and essay from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries contain detailed discussions about treatments and causes of neonatal jaundice. (Seidman, 2005)

Neonatal jaundice appears in a newly born baby. The baby is said to be jaundiced when the color of the skin appears to be yellow. The first symptoms of Jaundice are found in the face as well as upper parts of the body. Subsequently, Jaundice progresses downward in the direction of toes. The premature infants have more chances to develop jaundice as compared with full-term babies.

Causes and Functioning

The yellow color of the newly born baby is neonatal jaundice. The yellow color in body is caused by an excess quantity of bilirubin in the skin of a baby. Bilirubin can be described as a yellowish-red pigment. The amount of bilirubin is generally found in blood of every human being. However when extra bilirubin is made, the excess amount is dumped, first into the bloodstream, and subsequently deposited in the tissues for the purpose of temporary storage. (Bozaykut, 2008)

Bilirubin is formed and then released into the bloodstream specifically when there is a destruction or breakage of red blood cells. High volume of red blood cells is found in a newly born baby and as such this phenomenon significantly increases the load of bilirubin. The bilirubin is consequently carried to the liver. It is the liver in which bilirubin is processed and ultimately excreted from the human body.

Newly born babies have a high amount of red blood cells. It is in fact a natural process for the infant’s body to break down such excess amount of red blood cells, thereby forming a large quantity of bilirubin. As such it is bilirubin which becomes a cause of yellowish color of the skin. The liver of infant is immature and unable to process bilirubin quickly as compared with an older person. However, the slow bilirubin processing has no connection with liver disease. It simply means that the infant’s liver is not completely developed as it will be, and as such, there is a slight postponement in eliminating the bilirubin. (Bozaykut, 2008)

The bilirubin levels become elevated in the blood of almost all infants in the first few days after birth, while jaundice takes place in more than half. (Seidman, 2005) For most of the infants, jaundice and elevation represents a normal and routine physiological phenomenon and as such does not cause any specific problem.

Another rare syndrome linked with neonatal jaundice is referred as breast feeding jaundice. The jaundice, in this syndrome appears to be accentuated or caused by breast feeding. Even though, the exact cause of this particular jaundice type is not known, it has been hypothesized that some elements in breast milk reduce the overall processing capability of liver and eliminate bilirubin. (Bozaykut, 2008)


This paper has described Neonatal Jaundice, causes and its functioning. Neonatal Jaundice is the yellowing of skin in a newly born baby. This yellow color is caused by an excess quantity of bilirubin. The risk of developing neonatal jaundice is mostly increased in: low birth-weight; premature birth; breast-fed babies; and male infants. In most of the newly born babies, yellow color is the sole discovery on physical examination. More strong jaundice can be linked with drowsiness. Neurological signs like changes made in muscle tones or altered crying needs a swift attention.


Bozaykut, A (2008) Clinically Significant Neonatal Hyperbilirubinemia: An Analysis of 646 Cases. Journal of Tropical Pediatrics, 54, 211-213

Seidman, D (2005) Neonatal Hyperbilirubinemia. The New England Journal of Medicine, 344, 581-590