"Safe" hyperbilirubinemia is associated with altered neonatal behavior

Biol Neonate. 2003;83(1):19-21. doi: 10.1159/000067013.


Treatment of neonatal jaundice is currently recommended for higher bilirubinemia levels than before. Using the Brazelton Neonatal Behavior Assessment Scale, we found that a series of 28 healthy, untreated, term neonates with moderate bilirubinemia scored significantly less than an equal number of appropriately matched controls with low bilirubinemia for visual and auditory items, both inanimate and animate. Also, a greater lability of state, a lower self-quieting ability and more frequent tremors were found in the jaundiced group. We conclude that hyperbilirubinemia per se, even in the concentration range where phototherapy is not currently recommended, can give rise to alterations in neonatal behavior.

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperbilirubinemia / blood*
  • Hyperbilirubinemia / psychology*
  • Infant Behavior*
  • Infant, Newborn*
  • Male
  • Orientation
  • Photic Stimulation