Original Research

The prevalence of neonatal jaundice and risk factors in healthy term neonates at National District Hospital in Bloemfontein

Hanneke Brits, Jeanie Adendorff, Dyanti Huisamen, Dahne Beukes, Kristian Botha, Hanre Herbst, Gina Joubert
African Journal of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine | Vol 10, No 1 | a1582 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/phcfm.v10i1.1582 | © 2018 Hanneke Brits, Jeanie Adendorff, Dyanti Huisamen, Dahne Beukes, Kristian Botha, Hanre Herbst, Gina Joubert | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 17 July 2017 | Published: 12 April 2018

About the author(s)

Hanneke Brits, Department of Family Medicine (G19), University of the Free State, South Africa
Jeanie Adendorff, School of Medicine, University of the Free State, South Africa
Dyanti Huisamen, School of Medicine, University of the Free State, South Africa
Dahne Beukes, School of Medicine, University of the Free State, South Africa
Kristian Botha, School of Medicine, University of the Free State, South Africa
Hanre Herbst, School of Medicine, University of the Free State, South Africa
Gina Joubert, Department of Biostatistics (G31), University of the Free State, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: Neonatal jaundice affects one in two infants globally. The jaundice is the result of an accumulation of bilirubin as foetal haemoglobin is metabolised by the immature liver. High serum levels of bilirubin result in lethargy, poor feeding and kernicterus of the infant.
Aim: The main aim of this article was to determine the prevalence of neonatal jaundice and secondly to explore its risk factors in healthy term neonates.
Setting: Maternity ward, National District Hospital, Bloemfontein, South Africa.
Methods: In this cross-sectional study, mothers and infants were conveniently sampled after delivery and before discharge. The mothers were interviewed and their case records were reviewed for risk factors for neonatal jaundice and the clinical appearance and bilirubin levels of the infants were measured with a non-invasive transcutaneous bilirubin meter.
Results: A total of 96 mother-infant pairs were included in the study. The prevalence of neonatal jaundice was 55.2%; however, only 10% of black babies who were diagnosed with jaundice appeared clinically jaundiced. Normal vaginal delivery was the only risk factor associated with neonatal jaundice. Black race and maternal smoking were not protective against neonatal jaundice as in some other studies.
Conclusion: More than half (55.2%) of healthy term neonates developed neonatal jaundice. As it is difficult to clinically diagnose neonatal jaundice in darker pigmented babies, it is recommended that the bilirubin level of all babies should be checked with a non-invasive bilirubin meter before discharge from hospital or maternity unit as well as during the first clinic visit on day 3 after birth.

Keywords

neonatal jaundice; prevalence; associated factors; bilirubin levels; healthy term neonates

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