Objective: Gilbert Syndrome (GS), associated with unconjugated hyperbilirubinemia and decreased bilirubin UDP-glucuronosyltransferase activity, is usually diagnosed after puberty. The role of GS in neonatal jaundice is unknown. This study tested the hypothesis that a recently identified molecular marker for GS (a TA insertion in the promoter of UGT1A, the gene encoding bilirubin UDP-glucuronosyltransferase) is associated with neonatal jaundice.
Study design: Transcutaneous jaundice index was measured shortly after birth and daily for the first week of life in 151 healthy infants. Genomic DNA was isolated from blood or buccal brushings, and the UGT1A promoter was amplified by the polymerase chain reaction to yield 90 (A[TA]6TAA, normal) or 92 (A[TA]7TAA, GS) base pair products. Statistical analysis used Kruskal-Wallis, Wilcoxon, and Fisher's exact tests.
Results: Nineteen (13%) subjects were homozygous for the A(TA)7TAA polymorphism associated with GS. The A(TA)7TAA homozygotes had a greater increase in jaundice index during the first 2 days of life than heterozygotes or A(TA)6TAA homozygotes.
Conclusion: Although peak jaundice levels did not differ among groups, newborn infants with the molecular marker for GS have an accelerated increase in neonatal jaundice during the first 2 days of life.