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Semin Fetal Neonatal Med. 2015 Feb;20(1):2-5. doi: 10.1016/j.siny.2014.12.001. Epub 2015 Jan 9.

Impact of Rhesus disease on the global problem of bilirubin-induced neurologic dysfunction.

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Centre for Global Child Health, University of Toronto, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, ON, Canada.
Department of Pediatrics, Division of Neonatal‒Perinatal Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA, USA. Electronic address:


Clinical experience with Rhesus (Rh) disease and its post-icteric sequelae is limited among high-income countries because of nearly over four decades of effective prevention care. We hypothesized that Rh disease is prevalent in other regions of the world because it is likely that protection is limited or non-existent. Following a worldwide study, it has been concluded that Rh hemolytic disease is a significant public health problem resulting in stillbirths and neonatal deaths, and is a major cause of severe hyperbilirubinemia with its sequelae, kernicterus and bilirubin-induced neurologic dysfunction. Knowing that effective Rh-disease prophylaxis depends on maternal blood-type screening, healthcare afforded to the high-risk mothers needs to be free of bottlenecks and coupled with unfettered access to effective Rh-immunoglobulin. Future studies that match the universal identification of Rh-negative status of women and targeted use of immunoprophylaxis to prevent childhood bilirubin neurotoxicity are within reach, based on vast prior experiences.


Bilirubin; Bilirubin-induced neurologic dysfunction (BIND); Minor neurologic dysfunction; Rhesus disease; Subtle bilirubin injury

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