Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

BackgroundHyperbilirubinaemia is a major cause of neonatal morbidity. Early identification of those infants most at risk might allow the development of targeted primary preventative therapy and follow-up. The objective of this study was to assess whether arterial umbilical cord bilirubin (aUCB) level at delivery predicts the development of neonatal jaundice in term deliveries.MethodsRetrospective analysis of hospital biochemistry records identified term deliveries with recorded aUCB. Infant medical records were reviewed to identify those who developed neonatal hyperbilirubinaemia (requiring treatment according to UK NICE guidelines) with/without a positive direct antiglobulin test (DAT).ResultsOf 1411 term deliveries with a clearly recorded aUCB, 30 infants developed clinically-significant jaundice (2.7%), of whom 8 were DAT + ve (0.6%) mostly due to ABO incompatibility. aUCB strongly predicted the development of DAT + ve jaundice (area under the ROC curve = 0.996), as well as all-cause jaundice (area under the ROC curve = 0.74). However, this effect was critically dependent on maternal blood group. Amongst infants at risk of ABO incompatibility (maternal blood groups O + ve/O-ve, 39.7%) the predictive value of aUCB for all cause jaundice was strengthened (area under the ROC curve = 0.88). Amongst those not at risk (defined maternal blood group not O + ve/O-ve, 51.0%) it disappeared completely (area under the ROC curve = 0.46). A cutoff of 35 μmol/l for mothers with blood group O + ve/O-ve increased the pre-test probability for all-cause jaundice of 4% to a post-test probability of 30%.ConclusionsFor infants of mothers with blood group O, aUCB predicts development of neonatal jaundice. There was no evident utility for infants of mothers with other blood groups. Estimation of aUCB should be considered as a strategy for early identification of those at risk of neonatal haemolytic jaundice.

Original publication




Journal article


BMC pediatrics

Publication Date





Neonatal Unit, Homerton University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK.


Fetal Blood, Humans, Jaundice, Neonatal, Bilirubin, Logistic Models, Retrospective Studies, ROC Curve, Infant, Newborn, Female, Male, Biomarkers