Icterus Neonatorum in Near-Term and Term Infants: An overview.

Document Type



Paediatrics and Child Health


Neonatal jaundice is the yellowish discoloration of the skin and/or sclerae of newborn infants caused by tissue deposition of bilirubin. Physiological jaundice is mild, unconjugated (indirect-reacting) bilirubinaemia, and affects nearly all newborns. Physiological jaundice levels typically peak at 5 to 6 mg/dL (86 to 103 mumol/L) at 72 to 96 hours of age, and do not exceed 17 to 18 mg/dL (291-308 mumol/L). Levels may not peak until seven days of age in Asian infants, or in infants born at 35 to 37 weeks' gestation. Higher levels of unconjugated hyperbilirubinaemia are considered pathological and occur in a variety of conditions. The clinical features and management of unconjugated hyperbilirubinaemia in healthy near-term and term infants, as well as bilirubin toxicity and the prevention of kernicterus, are reviewed here. The pathogenesis and aetiology of this disorder are discussed separately.


Sultan Qaboos University Medical Journal