Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Jaundice Underlying Cause

Jaundice is caused by elevated levels of bilirubin in the bloodstream. High levels of bilirubin lead to yellow staining of the skin.

The average life span for a normal red cell is 120 days. Red cells over 120 days old are broken down the liver and spleen. Bilirubin is produced from the breakdown of hemoglobin, which is the molecule that carries oxygen inside red blood cells. The liver processes the bilirubin and it is removed from the body in the stool.

Jaundice may occur under the following circumstances:

  • Increased breakdown of red blood cells
  • Poor processing of bilirubin by the liver
  • Blockage of the flow of bilirubin from the liver to the intestine

Jaundice Diseases

Jaundice Drugs

Last Updated: Aug 1, 2007 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Jaundice References
  1. Ahlfors CE, Wennberg RP. Bilirubin-albumin binding and neonatal jaundice. Semin Perinatol. 2004 Oct;28(5):334-9. [15686264]
  2. Moyer V, Freese DK, Whitington PF, Olson AD, Brewer F, Colletti RB, Heyman MB; North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition. Guideline for the evaluation of cholestatic jaundice in infants: recommendations of the North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2004 Aug;39(2):115-28. [15269615]
  3. Pitiakoudis M, Mimidis K, Tsaroucha AK, Papadopoulos V, Karayiannakis A, Simopoulos C. Predictive value of risk factors in patients with obstructive jaundice. J Int Med Res. 2004 Nov-Dec;32(6):633-8. [15587757]
  4. Roche SP, Kobos R. Jaundice in the adult patient. Am Fam Physician. 2004 Jan 15;69(2):299-304. [14765767]
  5. Szabo P, Wolf M, Bucher HU, Haensse D, Fauchere JC, Arlettaz R. Assessment of jaundice in preterm neonates: comparison between clinical assessment, two transcutaneous bilirubinometers and serum bilirubin values. Acta Paediatr. 2004 Nov;93(11):1491-5. [15513578]
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