Objective: To evaluate whether teaching mothers about neonatal jaundice will decrease the incidence of acute bilirubin encephalopathy among infants admitted for jaundice.
Study design: This was a multicenter, before-after and cross-sectional study. Baseline incidences of encephalopathy were obtained at 4 collaborating medical centers between January 2014 and May 2015 (Phase 1). Structured jaundice instruction was then offered (May to November 2015; Phase 2) in antenatal clinics and postpartum. Descriptive statistics and logistic regression models compared 3 groups: 843 Phase 1 controls, 338 Phase 2 infants whose mothers received both antenatal and postnatal instruction (group A), and 215 Phase 2 infants whose mothers received no instruction (group B) either because the program was not offered to them or by choice.
Results: Acute bilirubin encephalopathy occurred in 147 of 843 (17%) Phase 1 and 85 of 659 (13%) Phase 2 admissions, which included 63 of 215 (29%) group B and 5 of 338 (1.5%) group A infants. OR for having acute bilirubin encephalopathy, comparing group A and group B infants adjusted for confounding risk factors, was 0.12 (95% CI 0.03-0.60). Delayed care-seeking (defined as an admission total bilirubin ≥18 mg/dL at age ≥48 hours) was the strongest single predictor of acute bilirubin encephalopathy (OR 11.4; 6.6-19.5). Instruction decreased delay from 49% to 17%. Other major risk factors were home births (OR 2.67; 1.69-4.22) and hemolytic disease (hematocrit ≤35% plus bilirubin ≥20 mg/dL) (OR 3.03; 1.77-5.18). The greater rate of acute bilirubin encephalopathy with home vs hospital birth disappeared if mothers received jaundice instruction.
Conclusions: Providing information about jaundice to mothers was associated with a reduction in the incidence of bilirubin encephalopathy per hospital admission.
Keywords: acute bilirubin encephalopathy; hyperbilirubinemia; kernicterus; low-middle income country; maternal instruction; neonatal jaundice; risk factors.
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