Severe neonatal hyperbilirubinemia in the Netherlands

Neonatology. 2013;104(2):137-42. doi: 10.1159/000351274. Epub 2013 Jul 24.


Background: The occurrence of severe neonatal hyperbilirubinemia (SH) is partly attributed to nonhospitalized perinatal care. The Netherlands have a high frequency of home births and nonhospitalized perinatal care, and the incidence of SH is unknown.

Objective: To assess the effects of home births and early hospital discharge on the incidence of SH in term-born infants in the Netherlands.

Methods: In this nationwide prospective surveillance study between 2005 and 2009, infants (≥37 weeks GA) were included if total serum bilirubin (TSB) was ≥500 µmol/l or if they received an exchange transfusion when TSB was ≥340 µmol/l.

Results: Seventy-one infants had SH (incidence 10.4/100,000); 43 had a TSB ≥500 μmol/l (incidence 6.3/100,000) and 45 (63%) underwent an exchange transfusion. 26% of the infants with SH were born at home, which is similar to 22% of all term infants who are born at home in the Netherlands (p = 0.41). Maximum TSB levels were similar in infants born at home (523 ± 114 μmol/l) and infants born in hospital (510 ± 123 μmol/l; p = 0.70). Of the 51 infants born in hospital, 33 were discharged and readmitted with SH, with maximal TSB levels (567 ± 114 μmol/l), which were higher than in infants who remained hospitalized (406 ± 47 μmol/l; p = 0.0001).

Conclusion: The incidence of severe hyperbilirubinemia in term-born infants in the Netherlands is 10.4 per 100,000, which is similar to other developed countries. Home birth and early hospital discharge do not necessarily lead to a higher incidence of SH, provided that perinatal home care is well organized.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bilirubin / blood
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Exchange Transfusion, Whole Blood
  • Gestational Age
  • Home Childbirth
  • Humans
  • Hyperbilirubinemia, Neonatal / blood
  • Hyperbilirubinemia, Neonatal / diagnosis
  • Hyperbilirubinemia, Neonatal / epidemiology*
  • Hyperbilirubinemia, Neonatal / therapy
  • Incidence
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Patient Discharge
  • Perinatal Care
  • Prospective Studies
  • Registries
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Time Factors


  • Biomarkers
  • Bilirubin