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Hyperbilirubinemia

Higher-than-normal amount of bilirubin in the blood. Bilirubin is a substance formed when red blood cells break down.

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(Source: NIH - National Cancer Institute)

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Evidence reviews

Metalloporphyrins for treatment of unconjugated hyperbilirubinemia in neonates

Metalloporphyrins may reduce very high levels of jaundice in newborn babies, but more research is required on safety and to compare it with other treatments. Jaundice is very common in newborn babies, and is caused by the liver producing too much bilirubin, a yellow‐coloured bile substance. A very high level of bilirubin can damage the developing brain, and is treated with phototherapy (light therapy) or exchange transfusions. Metalloporphyrins are drugs that can prevent the formation of bilirubin, but they might also cause photosensitivity (sensitivity to light) and anaemia (decreased hemoglobin levels in the blood). The review of trials found some evidence that metalloporphyrins might be able to reduce bilirubin, but more research is needed on short and long‐term effects and to compare it with other treatments.

Neonatal Jaundice

Jaundice is one of the most common conditions requiring medical attention in newborn babies. Approximately 60% of term and 80% of preterm babies develop jaundice in the first week of life, and about 10% of breastfed babies are still jaundiced at 1 month of age. In most babies with jaundice thevre is no underlying disease, and this early jaundice (termed ‘physiological jaundice’) is generally harmless. However, there are pathological causes of jaundice in the newborn, which, although rare, need to be detected. Such pathological jaundice may co-exist with physiological jaundice.

Clofibrate for neonatal jaundice

Jaundice is a common problem in the neonatal period typically in the first week of life. It is treated quite effectively using phototherapy whereby the baby is placed under special lights for up to three to four days. Clofibrate is used in some countries in combination with phototherapy to reduce the time the baby needs to spend under lights thereby reducing parental anxiety and improved parent‐baby bonding opportunities.

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Summaries for consumers

Metalloporphyrins for treatment of unconjugated hyperbilirubinemia in neonates

Metalloporphyrins may reduce very high levels of jaundice in newborn babies, but more research is required on safety and to compare it with other treatments. Jaundice is very common in newborn babies, and is caused by the liver producing too much bilirubin, a yellow‐coloured bile substance. A very high level of bilirubin can damage the developing brain, and is treated with phototherapy (light therapy) or exchange transfusions. Metalloporphyrins are drugs that can prevent the formation of bilirubin, but they might also cause photosensitivity (sensitivity to light) and anaemia (decreased hemoglobin levels in the blood). The review of trials found some evidence that metalloporphyrins might be able to reduce bilirubin, but more research is needed on short and long‐term effects and to compare it with other treatments.

Clofibrate for neonatal jaundice

Jaundice is a common problem in the neonatal period typically in the first week of life. It is treated quite effectively using phototherapy whereby the baby is placed under special lights for up to three to four days. Clofibrate is used in some countries in combination with phototherapy to reduce the time the baby needs to spend under lights thereby reducing parental anxiety and improved parent‐baby bonding opportunities.

Fibreoptic phototherapy for neonatal jaundice

A single fibreoptic phototherapy device is less effective at treating neonatal jaundice than conventional phototherapy, except in preterm infants in whom it is equally effective. Newborn infants often develop jaundice, which is concerning as unconjugated serum bilirubin can damage the developing brain. Since the 1960s, jaundice has been treated with phototherapy, for which the infants have to be naked in a crib with their eyes covered. Fibreoptic phototherapy is a new type of phototherapy in which the light is applied directly to the skin of the infant via optical fibres, enabling the infants to be nursed fully clothed near to their parents. This review has shown that fibreoptic phototherapy is less effective than conventional phototherapy, except in preterm infants in whom it is equally effective.

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More about Hyperbilirubinemia

Photo of a young adult woman

Also called: Hyperbilirubinaemia

See Also: Jaundice

Other terms to know:
Bilirubin, Red Blood Cells (Erythrocytes)

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