Jaundice occurs when excess bilirubin builds up in the blood. Bilirubin is a yellow-brown colored substance in the bile that is formed during the body's normal process of breaking down red blood cells. Bile is a liquid that carries waste products (including bilirubin) away from the liver. It also helps break down fats in the small intestine.
There are several reasons why too much bilirubin can build up in the blood. They include:
- Excess breakdown of red blood cells, which can occur in:
A blockage in or near the liver that prevents the flow of bile, such as:
- Gallstones or pancreatitis
- A tumor in the liver or bile duct
- Cancer in the pancreas
- Congenital defects, including biliary atresia
Liver, Gallbladder, and Bile duct© 2009 Nucleus Medical Art, Inc.
- Liver damage caused by:
- In babies, insufficient amounts of a certain liver enzyme during the first two weeks of life, possibly made worse by breastfeeding
- Inherited metabolic disorders, including Gilbert's, Crigler-Nager, and Dubin-Johnson syndromes
A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease or condition. The risk factors for jaundice are those that increase the risk for liver and gallbladder disorders. They include:
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