A Simpler Prediction Rule for Rebound Hyperbilirubinemia


We previously reported a clinical prediction rule to estimate the probability of rebound hyperbilirubinemia using gestational age (GA), age at phototherapy initiation, and total serum bilirubin (TSB) relative to the treatment threshold at phototherapy termination. We investigated (1) how a simpler 2-variable model would perform and (2) the absolute rebound risk if phototherapy were stopped at 2 mg/dL below the threshold for treatment initiation.


Subjects for this retrospective cohort study were infants born 2012–2014 at ≥35 weeks’ gestation at 1 of 17 Kaiser Permanente hospitals who underwent inpatient phototherapy before age 14 days. TSB reaching the phototherapy threshold within 72 hours of phototherapy termination was considered rebound. We simplified by using the difference between the TSB level at the time of phototherapy termination and the treatment threshold at the time of phototherapy initiation as 1 predictor, and kept GA as the other predictor.


Of the 7048 infants treated with phototherapy, 4.6% had rebound hyperbilirubinemia. The area under the receiver operating characteristic curve was 0.876 (95% confidence interval, 0.854 to 0.899) for the 2-variable model versus 0.881 (95% confidence interval, 0.859 to 0.903) for the 3-variable model. The rebound probability after stopping phototherapy at 2 mg/dL below the starting threshold was 2.5% for infants ≥38 weeks’ GA and 10.2% for infants <38 weeks’ GA.


Rebound hyperbilirubinemia can be predicted by a simpler 2-variable model consisting of GA and the starting threshold–ending TSB difference. Infants <38 weeks’ gestation may need longer phototherapy because of their higher rebound risk.

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