Umbilical cord blood bilirubins, gestational age, and maternal race predict neonatal hyperbilirubinemia

Adrian Castillo, Tristan R Grogan, Grace H Wegrzyn, Karrie V Ly, Valencia P Walker, Kara L Calkins
PloS One 2018, 13 (6): e0197888

OBJECTIVE: No validated biomarker at birth exists to predict which newborns will develop severe hyperbilirubinemia. This study's primary aim was to build and validate a prediction model for severe hyperbilirubinemia using umbilical cord blood bilirubins (CBB) and risk factors at birth in neonates at risk for maternal-fetal blood group incompatibility. This study's secondary aim was to compare the accuracy of CBB to the direct antigen titer.

METHODS: Inclusion criteria for this prospective cohort study included: ≥35 weeks gestational age, mother with blood type O and/or Rh negative or positive antibody screen, and <24 hours of age. The primary outcome was severe hyperbilirubinemia, defined as phototherapy during the initial hospital stay. Secondary outcomes were a total serum bilirubin concentration >95th and >75th percentile during the initial hospital stay. The predictive performance and accuracy of the two tests (CBB and direct antigen titer) for each outcome was assessed using area under a receiver-operating characteristic curve (AUC), sensitivity, and specificity.

RESULTS: When compared to neonates who did not receive phototherapy (n = 463), neonates who received phototherapy (n = 36) had a greater mean CBB ± standard deviation (2.5 ± 0.7 vs. 1.6 ± 0.4 mg/dL, p<0.001). For every 0.3 mg/dL increase in CBB, a neonate was 3.20 (95% confidence interval, 2.31-4.45), 2.10 (1.63-2.70), and 3.12 (2.44-3.99) times more likely to receive phototherapy or have a total serum bilirubin concentration >95th and >75th percentile, respectively. The AUC ± standard error (95% confidence interval) for CBB for phototherapy and a total serum bilirubin concentration >95th and >75th percentile was 0.89 ± 0.03 (0.82-0.95), 0.81 ± 0.04 (0.73-0.90), and 0.84 ± 0.02 (0.80-0.89), respectively. However, the AUC for gestational age and maternal Asian race for these outcomes was only 0.55 ± 0.05 (0.45-0.66), 0.66 ± 0.05 (0.56-0.76), and 0.57 ± 0.04 (0.05-0.64), respectively. When the CBB was combined with gestational age and maternal Asian race, the AUC for a total serum bilirubin concentration >95th percentile improved to 0.87 ± 0.03 (0.81-0.92) (p = 0.034 vs. the model with CBB only and p<0.001 vs. the model with clinical risk factors only). In a sub-group of subjects (n = 189), the AUC for the direct antigen titer for phototherapy was 0.64 ± 0.06 (0.52-0.77) with a 52% sensitivity and 77% specificity. In contrast, a CBB cut-point of 1.85 mg/dL was 92% sensitive and 70% specific for phototherapy with an AUC of 0.87 ± 0.04 (0.80-0.95).

CONCLUSION: CBB, in combination with gestational age and maternal race, may be a useful, non-invasive test to predict shortly after birth which neonates will develop severe hyperbilirubinemia.

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