Bilirubin encephalopathy of the newborn, or kernicterus, results from impregnation of specific cerebral structures - notably, the basal ganglia - that ultimately leads to neuronal loss and gliosis most commonly associated with extrapyramidal dysfunction and mental retardation. The condition has not been eradicated despite the standardization of newborn medical care in developed countries and there is little treatment available. Emphasis on prevention, particularly in preterm neonates, is curtailed by uncertainties about individual cerebral vulnerability and bilirubin toxicity mechanisms. This entry, therefore, focuses on the characterization of the clinical syndrome and on the disorders and circumstances that confer an elevated risk for kernicterus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of the Neurological Sciences
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages4
ISBN (Electronic)9780123851574
ISBN (Print)9780123851581
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014


  • Albumin
  • Athetosis
  • Bilirubin
  • Deafness
  • Extrapyramidal
  • Globus pallidus
  • Hemolysis
  • Icterus
  • Jaundice
  • Mental retardation
  • Opisthotonic posturing
  • Prematurity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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