Is exposure to direct sunlight through a window harmful to a newborn baby?

Q: I left my 3 weeks old son's face under the direct sunlight through the window while I fell asleep by accident. It was around 10:30am and I am not sure how long he was under the sunlight for. I woke up and moved him when he cried (for milk, I think). His skin is naturally darker because he is a mix of Asian and Caucasian. Our pediatrician said the sunlight on his face is safe if it is through a window to treat his jaundices, but I was not sure if he meant the direct sunlight as well.

A: Sunlight through a clear glass window has essentially the same effects as direct sunlight on the skin. In the newborn period the UV light from the sun helps to break down bilirubin through the infants skin which is how it helps with jaundice. Everyone, young and old should get some sunlight during the day as it helps with Vitamin D. Too much sun is not great for a person's skin, especially in infancy and childhood so I would not leave him in the sun either direct or through a window for prolonged periods of time.

Answered by Dr. Carrie M. Brown

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