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Kernicterus in neonates from ethnic minorities in the UK
  1. Dhinesh Baskaran1,
  2. Chris Gale2,
  3. Sena Jawad3,
  4. Kayleigh Oughham4,
  5. Ki Pang1,
  6. Anna Purna Basu1,5
  1. 1 Department of Paediatric Neurology, Great North Children's Hospital, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
  2. 2 Academic Neonatal Medicine, Imperial College London, London, UK
  3. 3 Neonatal Medicine, Imperial College London, London, UK
  4. 4 Neonatal Data Analysis Unit, Imperial College London Faculty of Medicine, London, UK
  5. 5 Population Health Sciences Institute, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Anna Purna Basu, Population Health Sciences Institute, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 4LP, UK; anna.basu{at}

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Kernicterus (bilirubin encephalopathy) is an important cause of lifelong neurodisability, with UK incidence of 0.9/100 000 live births.1 It causes painful dystonia, limits voluntary movements and affects speech and hearing, though often preserving cognition. The impact is reflected in the high cost of successful claims.2 Disturbingly, non-white ethnic groups are disproportionately affected in the UK.

Neonates from UK ethnic minority groups are at high risk of hyperbilirubinaemia. General risk factors include gestational age <38 weeks, intention to solely breast feed, jaundice with onset in the first 24 hours and/or progression of jaundice. In some groups, haemolytic diseases such as glucose 6 phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency have increased prevalence. In a UK/Ireland surveillance study of severe neonatal hyperbilirubinaemia, only 48% were identified as ‘white’.1

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  • Twitter @DrCGale, @AnnaBasu1

  • Contributors DB wrote the first draft. CG, SJ and KO provided and analysed national data. KP made substantial contribution to the manuscript. APB made substantial contribution to the manuscript, and drafted and revised the final manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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