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Semin Perinatol. 2011 Jun;35(3):134-40. doi: 10.1053/j.semperi.2011.02.007.

Newborn jaundice technologies: unbound bilirubin and bilirubin binding capacity in neonates.

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Department of Pediatrics, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Rochester, NY 14642, USA.


Neonatal jaundice (hyperbilirubinemia), which is extremely common in neonates, can be associated with neurotoxicity. A safe level of bilirubin has not been defined in either premature or term infants. Emerging evidence suggest that the level of unbound (or "free") bilirubin has a better sensitivity and specificity than total serum bilirubin for bilirubin-induced neurotoxicity. Although recent studies suggest the usefulness of free bilirubin measurements in managing high-risk neonates, including premature infants, no widely available method exists to assay the serum free bilirubin concentration. To keep pace with the growing demand, in addition to reevaluation of old methods, several promising new methods are being developed for sensitive, accurate, and rapid measurement of free bilirubin and bilirubin binding capacity. These innovative methods need to be validated before adopting for clinical use. We provide an overview of some promising methods for free bilirubin and binding capacity measurements with the goal to enhance research in this area of active interest and apparent need.

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