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What is Rh disease?


Who is at risk? Learn how to protect your baby from Rh Disease.

Jaundice is the yellow color seen in the skin of many newborns. Jaundice happens when a chemical called bilirubin builds up in the baby’s blood. During pregnancy, the mother’s liver removes bilirubin for the baby, but after birth the baby’s liver must remove the bilirubin. In some babies, the liver might not be developed enough to efficiently get rid of bilirubin. When too much bilirubin builds up in a new baby’s body, the skin and whites of the eyes might look yellow. This yellow coloring is called jaundice.

When severe jaundice goes untreated for too long, it can cause a condition called kernicterus. Kernicterus is a type of brain damage that can result from high levels of bilirubin in a baby’s blood. It can cause athetoid cerebral palsy and hearing loss. Kernicterus also causes problems with vision and teeth and sometimes can cause intellectual disabilities. Early detection and management of jaundice can prevent kernicterus.



Who is at Risk?


When severe jaundice goes untreated for too long, it can cause a condition called kernicterus. Kernicterus is a type of brain damage that can result from high levels of bilirubin in a baby’s blood. It can cause athetoid cerebral palsy and hearing loss. Kernicterus also causes problems with vision and teeth and sometimes can cause intellectual disabilities. Early detection and management of jaundice can prevent kernicterus.

  • Jaundice within first 24 hours after birth.
  • A sibling who was jaundiced as a neonate.
  • Nonoptimal sucking/nursing.
  • Deficiency in glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase, a genetic disorder.
  • Infection.
  • Cephalohematomas/bruising.
  • East Asian or Mediterranean descent.
  • Unrecognized hemolysis such as ABO blood type incompatibility or Rh incompatibility.


  • Get yourself tested


    How can I protect my baby
    from Rh disease?


    When severe jaundice goes untreated for too long, it can cause a condition called kernicterus. Kernicterus is a type of brain damage that can result from high levels of bilirubin in a baby’s blood. It can cause athetoid cerebral palsy and hearing loss. Kernicterus also causes problems with vision and teeth and sometimes can cause intellectual disabilities. Early detection and management of jaundice can prevent kernicterus.

  • Jaundice within first 24 hours after birth.
  • A sibling who was jaundiced as a neonate.
  • Nonoptimal sucking/nursing.
  • Deficiency in glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase, a genetic disorder.
  • Infection.
  • Cephalohematomas/bruising.
  • East Asian or Mediterranean descent.
  • Unrecognized hemolysis such as ABO blood type incompatibility or Rh incompatibility.


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