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J Perinatol. 2009 Feb;29 Suppl 1:S4-7. doi: 10.1038/jp.2008.210.

Synopsis report from the pilot USA Kernicterus Registry.

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


Breakdown in systems for safe newborn health-care delivery accounts for the majority of kernicterus cases encountered in the United States. Traditional epidemiologic investigations do not track the national incidence of severe hyperbilirubinemia and kernicterus or recognize its recent surge. Innovative investigative strategies are needed to seek more sensitive surrogates for kernicterus (often diagnosed late in infancy) and to overcome the limitations of retrospective continuity of adverse neonatal experiences because of severe hyperbilirubinemia. Root cause analysis of a cohort of infants who manifested kernicterus in the past two decades attests to some of the clinical and health-service barriers encountered by families as they negotiate health care from multiple providers at multiple sites during the first week after birth. Clinicians, health-care organizations, parents, and payors and purchasers of health care were often unaware of the ongoing patterns of care that may have obstructed preventive care. Now, partly based on these analyses, key recommendations have led to clinical usable guidelines for practitioners and have contributed to systems-oriented national guidelines for evidence-based safer management of newborn jaundice.(1) Clinician- and family-oriented tool kits have been made available, based on the report presented in this study, to facilitate effective implementation and thus optimize and institutionalize these guidelines ( An informed partnership of parents and clinicians seems to be the most effective strategy to prevent severe neonatal hyperbilirubinemia and 'near-miss' cases of kernicterus in the United States.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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