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Acta Paediatr. 2001 Mar;90(3):239-41.

Guidelines for treatment of neonatal jaundice. Is there a place for evidence-based medicine?

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Section on Neonatology, Department of Paediatrics, Rikshospitalet, University of Oslo, Norway.


Treatment of neonatal jaundice continues to be a controversial issue. Arguments that traditional practice results in over-treatment have led to the adoption of more liberal guidelines in some countries. The importation of liberal guidelines from one country to the next, however, is fraught with danger, because differences in epidemiology, sociology and healthcare delivery systems between countries may not be adequately reflected. The unreflected extension of liberalization to non-target groups of patients can expose the latter to significant risk. It is not clear that the evidence on which guidelines for treatment of neonatal jaundice are based satisfy the requirements for evidence-based medicine. Evidence of adequate quality may be hard to obtain.


Introduction of more liberal guidelines for the treatment of neonatal jaundice, if at all contemplated, must be adapted to local circumstances, and any available evidence pertaining to local epidemiology, sociology and healthcare organization has to be carefully weighed and incorporated. The time is ripe for a joint international effort to secure adequate funding for basic and applied research within the mechanisms of bilirubin encephalopathy in the newborn.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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