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Diseases

Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

Kernicterus


Other Names for this Disease
  • Bilirubin encephalopathy
  • Hyperbilirubinemic encephalopathy
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Overview

Kernicterus is a rare condition that affects the brain. It refers to a form of brain damage that occurs when neonatal jaundice goes untreated for too long. The severity of the condition and the associated signs and symptoms vary significantly from person to person. People living with kernicterus may experience athetoid cerebral palsy, hearing loss, intellectual disability, vision abnormalities, and behavioral difficulties. Approximately 60% of all newborn babies will have jaundice, a condition that is characterized by high level of bilirubin in the blood. Risk factors for severe jaundice and higher bilirubin levels include premature birth (before 37 weeks); darker skin color; East Asian or Mediterranean descent; feeding difficulties; jaundice in a sibling; bruising at birth; and a mother with an O blood type or Rh negative blood factor. Early detection and management of jaundice can prevent kernicterus.[1][2][3]
Last updated: 3/16/2016

References

  1. Bilirubin encephalopathy. MedlinePlus. April 2015; https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/007309.htm.
  2. Shelley C Springer, JD, MD, MSc, MBA, FAAP. Kernicterus. Medscape Reference. April 2014; http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/975276-overview.
  3. Facts about Jaundice and Kernicterus. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. February 2015; http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/jaundice/facts.html.
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Basic Information

  • You can obtain information on this topic from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC is recognized as the lead federal agency for developing and applying disease prevention and control, environmental health, and health promotion and education activities designed to improve the health of the people of the United States.
  • MedlinePlus was designed by the National Library of Medicine to help you research your health questions, and it provides more information about this topic.
  • The National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) is a federation of more than 130 nonprofit voluntary health organizations serving people with rare disorders. Click on the link to view information on this topic.

In Depth Information

  • Medscape Reference provides information on this topic. You may need to register to view the medical textbook, but registration is free.
  • MeSH® (Medical Subject Headings) is a terminology tool used by the National Library of Medicine. Click on the link to view information on this topic.
  • Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man (OMIM) is a catalog of human genes and genetic disorders. Each entry has a summary of related medical articles. It is meant for health care professionals and researchers. OMIM is maintained by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. 
  • Orphanet is a European reference portal for information on rare diseases and orphan drugs. Access to this database is free of charge.
  • PubMed is a searchable database of medical literature and lists journal articles that discuss Kernicterus. Click on the link to view a sample search on this topic.
Other Names for this Disease
  • Bilirubin encephalopathy
  • Hyperbilirubinemic encephalopathy
See Disclaimer regarding information on this site. Some links on this page may take you to organizations outside of the National Institutes of Health.