Carotenemia and Yellow Colored Skin

Expert Q&A

A six month old eating baby food.
Some food that are high in carotene can cause your baby's skin to appear yellow.. Photo by Shannon Long

Question. I take care of my granddaughter and have noticed that her skin looks a little bit yellow and that the bottom of her feet are also yellow. The whites of her eyes are not yellow though. Does she need a blood test or something? Myrna, Tampa, FL

Answer. Are you worried that your granddaughter is jaundiced?


Instead of jaundice, it sounds like your granddaughter has a classic case of carotenemia, in which an infant's skin appears yellow, or even orange, after eating a lot of baby foods that are high in carotene.

These foods include carrots, squash, sweet potato, corn, yams, pumpkin, egg yolks, spinach, and beans. Other vegetables and fruits with a deep green or yellow color may also contain high levels of carotene.

Does she eat a lot of these foods?

Breastfed babies can also develop carotenemia if their mother is eating a lot of foods that are high in carotene.

Carotenemia is a harmless condition and you don't have to restrict these foods from your granddaughter's diet. It will likely go away over time, as your granddaughter gets older and eats more of a variety of foods.

Carotenemia Tests

Although you should mention your concerns to your pediatrician, it is likely right that no blood tests need to be done, especially if she is otherwise growing and developing normally.

The fact that her eyes aren't yellow is a good sign that she isn't jaundiced, and if she is otherwise well, there likely isn't anything else causing her skin to appear yellow.

If you are very concerned about it, you might also consider changing her diet some, so that she isn't eating too many high carotene foods and see if her skin color becomes less yellow.

Remember that you don't have to though. Carotenemia is temporary.

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