Quantification of cephalocaudal progression of jaundice in preterm infants

Alida J. Dam-Vervloet*, Foky Anna de Boer, Ingrid M. Nijholt, Lieke Poot, Nienke Bosschaart, Henrica L.M. van Straaten

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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Background: The cephalocaudal progression (CCP) of neonatal jaundice is a well-known phenomenon, but quantitative information on CCP in preterm infants is absent. In this study, CCP was quantified in preterm infants as a function of postnatal age and body location. Methods: 5.693 transcutaneous bilirubin (TcB) measurements were performed in 101 preterm infants from birth until postnatal day seven at five body locations (forehead, sternum, hipbone, tibia, ankle). Multi-level linear regression analysis was performed to evaluate the CCP as a function of body location and postnatal age. TcB measurements at all body locations and postnatal days were compared to total serum bilirubin (TSB) levels (N = 1.113). Results: The overall average change in ratio of TcB compared to forehead was for sternum +0.04 [95% CI −0.02;0.09]; hipbone +0.05 [0.00;0.01]; tibia −0.33 [−0.38;−0.27] and ankle −0.62 [−0.68;−0.57]. No effect modification of CCP by sex, gestational age, birthweight, phototherapy, and TSB was found. The TcB maximally underestimated the TSB at the ankle −79.5 µmol [−0.1;159.2]. Conclusions: CCP is present in preterm infants and is relatively stable over time. Since TcB measurements on the tibia and ankle underestimate TSB significantly, we advise to use only measurement locations cephalic from the tibia; i.e., hipbone, sternum, and forehead. Impact: Cephalocaudal progression (CCP) of jaundice in preterm infants, assessed by transcutaneous bilirubin (TcB) measurements, is substantial and rather stable over postnatal day 0 to 7.To the best of our knowledge, this study is the first to investigate CCP of jaundice in preterm infants as a function of postnatal age in preterm infants.Our results demonstrate that TcB measurements at the tibia and ankle differ from the TSB beyond the clinically used TcB safety margins. We advise to perform TcB measurements only at locations cephalic from the tibia; i.e., hipbone, forehead, and sternum.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)239-245
JournalPediatric Research
Early online date28 Nov 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2023


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