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J Perinatol. 2010 Oct;30 Suppl:S6-15. doi: 10.1038/jp.2010.98.

Universal bilirubin screening for severe neonatal hyperbilirubinemia.

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  • 1Division of Neonatal and Developmental Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, Lucile Packard Children's Hospital, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94304, USA.


To reduce the incidence of severe neonatal hyperbilirubinemia affecting newborns with jaundice in the United States and to prevent kernicterus, there is a need to implement proven prevention strategies for severe neonatal hyperbilirubinemia as recommended in the 2004 American Academy of Pediatrics Guidelines for newborns >35 weeks gestational age. The purpose of universal predischarge bilirubin screening is to identify infants with bilirubin levels >75th percentile for age in hours and track those with rapid rates of bilirubin rise (>0.2 mg per 100 ml per h). Early identification has been reported to predict severe hyperbilirubinemia and allow for evidence-based targeted interventions. A systems approach is likely to reduce the preventable causes of acute bilirubin encephalopathy. To do so, highest priority should be given to (i) designating extreme hyperbilirubinemia (total serum bilirubin >427 ╬╝mol l(-1) or >25 mg per 100 ml) as a reportable condition by laboratories and health-care providers through public health mandates; (ii) implementation of Joint Commission's Sentinel Report for kernicterus; (iii) nursing outreach to communities for education of prospective parents; (iv) development of clinical pathways to monitor, evaluate and track infants with extreme hyperbilirubinemia; and (v) societal awareness. These efforts should be monitored by a state and national surveillance system in order to critically improve the timeliness and completeness of notifications and to allow evaluation and interventions at the policy and individual family level.

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