Definition: a form of jaundice observed frequently in newborn infants in the first 1–2 weeks of life. It is caused by several factors, including a comparatively high red blood cell mass at birth compared with that of adults, shorter red blood cell lifespan, transiently impaired conjugation of bilirubin in the liver, and lack of gut flora (which are helpful in intestinal metabolism and excretion of bilirubin); is related to indirect (unconjugated) bilirubinemia that peaks at 2–3 days of age in normal, full-term infants and later with higher levels in preterm infants and is accentuated in breast-fed infants.
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