Vinod (Vinny) K. Bhutani

Publication Details

  • Newborn jaundice and kernicterus--health and societal perspectives. Indian journal of pediatrics Bhutani, V. K., Johnson, L. H. 2003; 70 (5): 407-416


    Kernicterus, a preventable injury to the brain from severe neonatal jaundice, has re-emerged in the United States as a public and societal health concern. Kernicterus, in its usually recognized form, causes devastating disabilities, including athetoid cerebral palsy and speech and hearing impairment. This condition not only ranks amongst the highest cost per new case (per CDCs Financial Burden of Disability study, 1992), but also results in profound and uncompromising grief for the family and loss to siblings of healthy, talkative playmates. And for the child with kernicterus (usually remarkably intelligent, but trapped in an uncontrollable body), grief and frustration are enormous. In 2001 national healthcare organizations, including Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Joint Commission for the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JACHO) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued alerts to all accredited hospitals and public health professionals in the United States that all healthy infants are at potential risk of kernicterus if their newborn jaundice is unmonitored and inadequately treated. The re-emergence of kernicterus in the United States is the result of interacting phenomena including (a) Early hospital discharge (before extent of jaundice is known and signs of impending brain damage have appeared); (b) Lack of adequate concern for the risks of severe jaundice in healthy term and near newborns; (c) An increase in breast feeding; (d) Medical care cost constraints; (e) Paucity of educational materials to enable parents to participate in safeguarding their newborns; and (f) Limitations within in healthcare systems to monitor the outpatient progression of jaundice. A multidisciplinary approach that encompasses both healthcare and societal needs should be evaluated at a national level for practical and easy to implement strategies. An approach that is based on principles of evidence-based medicine, patient-safety and family centeredness is presented in this article. These strategies should also be based on public awareness campaign such that the healthcare providers can attempt to achieve a "Zero Tolerance of Kernicterus" and thereby decrease both childhood disabilities and infant mortality within the community.

    View details for PubMedID 12841402

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