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J Paediatr Child Health. 1994 Aug;30(4):341-4.

Perhaps vigintiphobia should only apply to infants with Rhesus erythroblastosis.

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Department of Paediatrics, Mercy Hospital for Women, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.


Forty-two children who sustained a serum bilirubin (SBR) level above 339 mumol/L as newborn infants were assessed at our Growth and Development Clinic to determine presence of sequelae. Only one child (2.3%) had mild sensorineural deafness and one child (2.3%) performed below age-matched standards on psychological testing. As the SBR level rose the psychological scores were lower. Three infants had sepsis associated with the hyperbilirubinaemia. Two (maximum SBR levels of 371 and 366 mumol/L) children were normal (General Cognitive Index (GCI) 117 and 119, respectively) and one child (maximum SBR level 556 mumol/L) was borderline abnormal (GCI 74) on psychological testing; he also suffered from Rhesus erythroblastosis. Premature infants recorded a mean GCI of 109.9 (+/- 33.4) and for term infants mean GCI was 110.3 (+/- 17.3; NS); however, the youngest premature infant was 32 weeks' gestation. When maximum SBR level was correlated with GCI and Motor Index (MI) the only significant correlation (r = -0.7445; P = 0.03) occurred in infants with Rhesus erythroblastosis and GCI. Since exchange transfusion has a mortality of between 0.3 and 5.3% and an associated morbidity incidence of 5.2% we suggest that the standard indication for its use (SBR level of 342 mumol/L) should only apply to infants with Rhesus erythroblastosis. The actual SBR level which places a newborn infant at significant risk of bilirubin encephalopathy, where the cause of jaundice is other than Rhesus erythroblastosis, cannot be determined by this study.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

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