Prevalence of Bilirubin Encephalopathy in Calabar, South-South Nigeria: A Five-year Review Study

Document Type: Original Article

Authors

1 Department of Pediatrics, University of Calabar, Calabar, Nigeria

2 Department of Pediatrics, University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, Calabar, Nigeria

Abstract

Background: Bilirubin encephalopathy is a clinical syndrome, associated with bilirubin toxicity in the central nervous system, resulting in chronic and permanent sequelae. It has been estimated that approximately 60% and 80% of term and preterm newborns develop jaundice in the first week of life, respectively. In the present study, we aimed to determine the prevalence, morbidity, and mortality of bilirubin encephalopathy in the neonatal unit of the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, Calabar, Nigeria.
Methods: In this retrospective, descriptive review, medical records of all newborns, diagnosed with bilirubin encephalopathy over the past five years (from January 2010 to December 2014), were studied. Information retrieved from the medical records included age, sex, presence of fever, duration of disease, place of delivery, causes of the disease, and selected treatments. Variables such as hospital discharge, discharge against medical advice, and mortality were also evaluated.
Results: Out of 2,820 newborns, 21 (0.74%) cases were admitted on account of bilirubin encephalopathy. Among these affected cases, 17 (81%) were male and 4 (19%) were female (male-to-female ratio of 5:1). Based on the findings, 18 newborns (85.7%) had pyrexia, while 8 (38.1%) and 6 (28.6%) cases were hypertonic and hypotonic, respectively upon admission. Only 33.3% of deliveries took place in healthcare facilities. The established factors responsible for jaundice included infection, i.e., septicemia (n=15, 71.4%), ABO incompatibility (n=4, 19.1%), and glucose-6-phosphate-dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency (n=2, 9.5%). The mean maximum total bilirubin level in subjects was 321.3 μmol/L (range: 242.5–440.3 μmol/L). Also, mortality was reported in 4 (19%) out of 21 cases.
Conclusion: Based on the findings, neonatal septicemia is associated with bilirubin encephalopathy. Therefore, identification and prompt treatment are of utmost importance in preventing the associated morbidity and mortality.

Keywords


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