This is a blood test that measures the total amount of bilirubin in the blood. Bilirubin is released into the blood when red blood cells break down. The liver uses bilirubin to make bile.
Normally there is only a small amount of bilirubin in the blood. High levels may be caused by liver or blood problems. When the bilirubin level rises, it causes the skin and whites of the eyes to become yellow. This change to yellow is called jaundice.
This test may be done to:
There is usually no special preparation for this test.
For newborns, a blood sample is taken from the heel. For older children, a small amount of blood is taken from your child’s arm with a needle. The blood is collected in tubes and sent to a lab. Another test, called the transcutaneous bilirubin measurement, sends a quick flash of light through the skin over the breast bone.
Having this test will take just a few minutes. There is no risk of getting AIDS, hepatitis, or any other blood-borne disease from this test.
The normal bilirubin range is 0 to 1.5 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) for children over the age of 1 month. For newborns, the normal range is 2.0 to 10.0 mg/dl. The normal range may vary slightly from lab to lab. Normal ranges are usually shown next to your child’s results in the lab report.
Your child’s level of bilirubin may be higher than normal because:
A bilirubin level lower than normal is, in general, never cause for concern.
Test results are only one part of a larger picture that takes into account your child’s medical history and current health. Sometimes a test needs to be repeated to check the first result. Talk to your child’s healthcare provider about your child’s result and ask questions.
If your child’s test result is not normal, ask your child’s healthcare provider: