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Jaundice Causes & Risks

Causes

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:

    Liver, Gallbladder, and Bile duct

    Nucleus Image
    © 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

Risk Factors

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:

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Copyright © 2019 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved.

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