First Time User? Sign Up Now
First Time User? Enroll now.
Home > Health Library > Bilirubin
Bilirubin is a substance produced by the breakdown of old red blood cells and hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. Bilirubin is removed from the body through the digestive system as part of the bile from the liver.
Normally, the body is constantly making new red blood cells and breaking down old ones. The amount of bilirubin in a person's blood is usually very low. Higher-than-normal amounts of bilirubin in the blood cause a person's skin and eyes to become yellow (jaundice). A blockage in the bile duct or certain medical conditions, such as liver disease, may cause bilirubin levels to rise to an unhealthy level.
Newborns often have high amounts of bilirubin in their blood. In most cases, the baby's system will become better able to eliminate the bilirubin within days. But a baby may need medical attention if the yellowing appears to increase after the third day of life or has not decreased by the fifth day.
Current as of:
March 27, 2018
Medical Review:E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2018 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
1430 N Salem Street
Apex, NC 27502
2615 Lake Drive
Raleigh, NC 27607
901 Ridgefield Drive
Raleigh, NC 27609
4420 Lake Boone Trail
Raleigh, NC 27607
357 Carolina Arbors Drive
Durham, NC 27703
UNC REX Healthcare4420 Lake Boone TrailRaleigh, NC 27607, USA919-784-3100
Chosen for Excellence
Co-Worker & Physician Login
UNC Health Talk
Copyright 2019 UNC Health Care. All rights reserved.