The aim of this study was to evaluate the change in the treatment of neonatal jaundice following introduction of the "American Academy of Pediatrics' Practice Parameter for the management of hyperbilirubinemia in the healthy term newborn". In a historical control observation cohort study, we examined the rate of phototherapy and exchange transfusions among full-term (> or = 37 wk gestation) and near-term (gestational age between 35 and 37 wk and birthweight > 2000 g) infants in two community hospitals. The study included all consecutive infants born during two 15-mo study periods immediately before and after the introduction of the new guidelines. Data were prospectively recorded in a computerized database. The rate of phototherapy significantly decreased in the second study period from 7.9% (514/6499) to 2.9% (251/8650) (p < 0.0001) among full-term infants, and from 20.9% (102/489) to 9.4% (47/502) (p < 0.0001) in near-term infants. The use of exchange transfusion was significantly higher (p < 0.001) in the first compared to the second period: 0.2% (15/6499) vs 0.03% (3/8650). A significant decrease was found when the data from each hospital were analyzed separately.
Conclusion: A significant decrease in the use of phototherapy and exchange transfusion occurred after the publication of the new practice parameters. This trend was observed for both term and preterm newborns, although the new guidelines were not intended for infants born before term.