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J Perinatol. 2009 Feb;29 Suppl 1:S53-7. doi: 10.1038/jp.2008.215.

Systems changes to prevent severe hyperbilirubinemia and promote breastfeeding: pilot approaches.

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Section of Neonatology, Department of Pediatrics, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, USA.


Providing safe and effective care requires coordination among the multiple levels of the health care system. These levels comprise the newborn (patient, family and community), nursery or primary care practice (microsystem), hospital or managed care organization (macro-organization) and policy, payment or regulatory issues (environmental context). Contemporary care practices associated with childbirth and early newborn care often reflect disruptions in coordination of these processes and place newborns at risk for poor outcomes. For example, with routine early postpartum discharge, often at less than 48 h after vaginal birth, the peak of serum bilirubin at 3 to 5 days of age typically occurs at home, rather than observed by clinicians in a newborn nursery. In addition, lactation is rarely well established by early discharge and support is often inadequate, increasing the risk of hyperbilirubinemia and discontinuation of breastfeeding. Also, late preterm infants are frequently cared for in the newborn nursery, although they often have difficulty establishing oral feeding and are at substantially higher risk for severe hyperbilirubinemia than infants born at term. Finally, pediatric follow-up is often delayed beyond the first week, after the optimal time for continued assessment of jaundice and lactation. The American Academy of Pediatrics Safe and Healthy Beginnings Initiative, a pilot quality improvement project, will target newborn nurseries, primary care practices and coordination between these sites using a systems-based approach to facilitate implementation of the 2004 guideline for management of hyperbilirubinemia.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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