Carotenemia. A review

Clin Pediatr (Phila). 1981 Jan;20(1):25-9. doi: 10.1177/000992288102000103.


Awareness of carotenemia is important to avoid confusion with jaundice and unnecessary diagnostic studies. It is surprising how little information can be found about this relatively common condition in the standard pediatric textbooks. Ingestion of excessive amounts of carrots is the usual cause of carotenemia, but it can also be associated with ingestion of many other yellow vegetables, as well as some green vegetables. Mothers may unknowingly be giving their infants large amounts of carrots in the form of commercial infant food combinations. Carotenemia is a benign condition; vitamin A poisoning does not occur despite massive doses of carotene because the conversion of carotene to vitamin A is slow. Hypothyroidism, diabetes mellitus, hepatic and renal diseases may be associated with carotenemia, but are not caused by ingestion of carotene. The absence of yellow pigment in the sclera and oral cavities distinguishes carotenemia from jaundice. A similar disorder, lycopenemia, is associated with an orange-yellow skin pigmentation as a result of ingestion of large amounts of tomatoes.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Carotenoids / blood*
  • Carotenoids / metabolism
  • Diabetes Complications
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Diet / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Hypothyroidism / complications
  • Infant
  • Jaundice / diagnosis
  • Lycopene
  • Male
  • Metabolism, Inborn Errors / complications
  • Pigmentation Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Pigmentation Disorders / etiology
  • Skin Diseases / complications


  • Carotenoids
  • Lycopene