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Jaundice causes

Jaundice is a yellow color in the skin, mucous membranes, or eyes. The yellow color comes from bilirubin, a byproduct of old red blood cells. Jaundice is a sign of other diseases.

This article talks about the possible causes of jaundice in children and adults. Newborn jaundice occurs in very young infants.


Jaundice is often a sign of a problem with the liver, gallbladder, or pancreas. Jaundice can occur when too much bilirubin builds up in the body. This may happen when:

  • There are too many red blood cells dying or breaking down and going to the liver.
  • The liver is overloaded or damaged.
  • The bilirubin from the liver is not able to properly move into the digestive tract.

Conditions that can cause jaundice include:

Alternative Names

Causes of jaundice; Cholestasis


Lidofsky SD. Jaundice. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease: Pathophysiology/Diagnosis/Management. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 21.

Review Date 8/1/2017

Updated by: Subodh K. Lal, MD, gastroenterologist with Gastrointestinal Specialists of Georgia, Austell, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.