Bilirubin is actually a reddish bile pigment which is an intermediate product from the breakdown of hemoglobin in the liver. Now if you’ve taken a blood test and saw your results, one of the many questions from jargon words in that paper is – what is bilirubin in blood test mean?

To emphasize, bilirubin is a byproduct from the normal breakdown of the old red blood cells in the liver. Usually, this yellow pigment gets through the liver and goes through the intestines in a form of bile; this pigment then helps in the breakdown of fats.

If that process doesn’t happen, then there must be something wrong with the body’s digestive system, particularly the liver. This results to the formation and accumulation of the pigment in blood, causing skin to discolor and look yellowish – a condition known as jaundice.

Bilirubin appears in two types inside the body: the conjugated (or direct) or unconjugated (or indirect). It is the unconjugated bilirubin that doesn’t dissolve in water, and must pass through the liver to be transformed into a different form and make it soluble for the body to absorb and consume the pigment

What is bilirubin in the blood test and how does the body really benefit from it?

Newborn babies, especially those premature, are in a high risk to jaundice symptoms, simply because their young liver doesn’t process bilirubin fast. Jaundice symptoms is also common among babies, especially to breastfeed babies who don’t get much milk or their mothers are make substances that raise the bilirubin levels in blood.

Mild cases of bilirubin and minor liver problems usually heal on their own. However, in many cases, a high level of bilirubin in blood can cause significant physical damage such as brain damage and hearing loss for babies. The AAP or American Academy of Pediatrics released a statement about the importance of getting newborn babies examined from jaundice and jaundice-like symptoms. If doctor’s assessment says the baby is having more bilirubin and will feel more symptoms of jaundice, then blood test should be done to determine the exact digits of bilirubin count in the blood.

Babies with bigger bilirubin problems may need to undergo phototherapy, a treatment that makes use of special light that helps liver in processing bilirubin in the body, or in some and few cases, a medical procedure known as exchange transfusion, where newborns bilirubin level will be drastically brought down by eliminating bilirubin-rich blood from the baby’s body, and replace it with blood that has normal level of bilirubin.

Infants and newborns with high level of bilirubin in their blood, may also developed the condition from hemolytic disease, a condition that usually happens when the blood type of the baby is not compatible with his/her mother’s blood type, causing to extra fast breakdown of the baby’s red blood cells.

Babies who have been suspected to experience jaundice and jaundice-like condition such as bile duct blockage, liver disease of thyroid preparation, should undergo bilirubin test for better diagnosis.

No special preparations are required for this test. All you have to do is to bring your child to his/her pediatrician. Having your kid wear a shirt could help technicians greatly in drawing the blood.