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Testing Newborns For Jaundice Without A Blood Sample

Updated: Feb 9, 2023

FDA-approved transcutaneous jaundice meter only needs simple scan of skin for safe and accurate results without the need to draw blood.


Baby having pain-free jaundice test without blood draw
Jaundice Meter

Using pain-free equipment enables Miami Pediatrics to enhance quality of care for newborns

What is Jaundice? If someone says, “your baby has jaundice,” it means that the color of your baby’s skin has a yellow tint. But where does this yellow color come from? Newborn infants are constantly making new red blood cells, and breaking down the old ones. One of the waste products of old blood cells is a yellow substance called bilirubin. Bilirubin is processed by the liver into an easily disposable form and then eliminated from the body in the bowel movements. Some babies make bilirubin faster than they can get rid of it, causing the bilirubin to build up in the body and make the skin appear yellow. The yellow color is most visible in natural daylight (near a window) or under the fluorescent lights like those in the hospital nursery.

Is jaundice harmful? The amount of jaundice that most newborns have is not harmful. However, at very high levels, bilirubin can damage the brain or the hearing. The goal is to make sure that every baby has a safe experience with jaundice. You can help by asking your nurses and physicians about jaundice in your baby, asking for help with breastfeeding if your baby is not feeding well, and making sure you take your baby in on time for check-ups or bilirubin tests after you leave the hospital.

How are babies checked for jaundice? Every baby is watched for jaundice in the hospital. Although nurses and physicians might notice jaundice by looking and touching your baby’s skin, other tests must be used to accurately measure the level of bilirubin. These are the serum bilirubin test and the transcutaneous bilirubin test. The serum bilirubin test is a blood test that is sent to the hospital laboratory. Blood for this test is usually taken from a small puncture of your baby’s heel. It can take an hour or longer to get the results of the serum bilirubin test. A transcutaneous bilirubin can be done with a small hand-held instrument that measures the level of jaundice through the baby’s skin. It is not an invasive procedure as it does not require any blood and the results are instantaneous. Some babies might need to have both types of bilirubin tests. If the transcutaneous bilirubin test is high, a blood bilirubin test will be done to see if treatment is necessary.

Make routine screening less stressful

​Transcutaneous bilirubin (TcB) measurement offers a gentle, pain-free alternative to traditional jaundice screening. There’s no blood draw, removing a major stress from fragile babies and their parents. Think of it – no more delays waiting for laboratory results. When used with other clinical signs, it is just reliable information for expert decision-making.

As a Miami Pediatrics family, you can feel confident knowing that we are always striving to improve the quality of care we provide by utilizing the latest evidence-based techniques and cutting-edge equipment.

Miami Pediatrics is a pediatrics office providing premium care to children from birth to young adulthood for more than 30 years. Platinum Care by Miami Pediatrics is our exclusive concierge program offering significant services beyond standard healthcare. For more information about Miami Pediatrics, please visit our website,, or call us at 305-868-5181.


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