• Vol. 32 No. 2, 257–261
  • 15 March 2003

Predicting Significant Hyperbilirubinaemia and Early Discharge for Glucose-6-Phosphate Dehydrogenase Deficient Newborns



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Introduction: This study aims to assess the usefulness of day 3 (49 to 72 hours) pre-phototherapy total serum bilirubin (TSB) in predicting subsequent significant hyperbilirubinaemia (SHB) and the feasibility of early discharge for term and near-term glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficient newborns.

Materials and Methods: This prospective cohort study involved inborn G6PD deficient neonates who were >35 weeks and weighed >2000 g at birth. TSB levels and phototherapy requirements in their first two weeks of life were studied. Day 3 pre-phototherapy TSB in the subgroup weighing >2500 g at birth was analysed for its value in predicting subsequent SHB.

Results: Of the 129 neonates, 58 (45%) required phototherapy in the first week. Of these, only 4 patients (3.1%) needed phototherapy to be restarted in the second week. Seventy-one (55%) neonates did not require phototherapy at all. In the absence of SHB in the first week, the probability of its development in the second week was zero (95% confidence interval, 0 to 0.057). In the subgroup weighing >2500 g at birth, day 3 prephototherapy TSB <154 umol/L predicted no measurable risk of subsequent SHB (sensitivity, 100%; 95% confidence interval, 91.4% to 100%; negative predictive value, 100%; 95% confidence interval, 86.7% to 100%).

Conclusions: G6PD deficient newborns without SHB in their first week of life were at no measurable risk of its development in the second week. Day 3 pre-phototherapy TSB in the subgroup weighing >2500 g was useful for predicting the risk of subsequent SHB. Low-risk infants, thus identified, may be eligible for discharge on or before day 7 of life. Evidence-based early discharge can decrease the social and financial burden of G6PD deficiency in Singapore.

Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency occurs in 2.5% of Singapore’s population, and affected newborns are at risk for severe neonatal hyperbilirubinaemia and kernicterus. In the past four decades, neonatology units in local restructured hospitals have hospitalised all affected newborns for at least 14 days after birth because of this risk.

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