Background: Hyperbilirubinemia is a benign transitional phenomenon that occurs in 60% to 80% of all term infants. The degree of hyperbilirubinemia and hence risk for developing bilirubin-induced neurologic dysfunction or BIND is dependent upon two major processes: (i) bilirubin production and its elimination.
Objective: The aim of this review is to address the importance of hemolysis and its clinical detection in neonates with hyperbilirubinemia.
Results: In newborns, an increased bilirubin production rate due to hemolysis is often the primary cause of hyperbilirubinemia during the first week of life. If undiagnosed or untreated, it may lead to an increased risk for BIND. Therefore, the ability to identify infants with hemolytic disease is important in assessing those at risk for developing BIND. In addition, an infant’s genetic profile and bilirubin binding status can also affect their overall capacity to cope with the resultant tissue bilirubin load and affect risk and guide appropriate management strategies.
Conclusion: Therefore, the determination of a newborn’s bilirubin production rate is critical to the assessment of a newborn’s risk for developing unpredictable extreme hyperbilirubinemia and preventing BIND.