To determine the occurence, aetiological and other associated factors of neonatal jaundice in Federal Medical Centre Abakaliki, Southeast Nigeria with a view to determining strategies for prevention, using patients’ and maternal case folders and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) admission register, all cases of neonatal jaundice (NNJ) admitted to Federal Medical Centre, Abakaliki from January 1st 2008 to December 31st 2009 were retrospectively studied. The study revealed that NNJ accounted for 35% of all NICU admissions. The leading aetiological factors of NNJ were septicaemia (32.5%) and prematurity (17.5%). Significant bilirubinaemia, septicaemia, contact with naphthalene ball contaminated clothes occurred significantly more in the outborn than in the inborn babies 40(48.2%) vs 66(63%) p = 0.000, 33(50%) vs 17(42.5) p = 0.046, 6(9.1%) vs 0(0.0%) p = 0.045 respectively. Significantly more mothers of outborn than of inborn babies were unbooked and took herbal medications in pregnancy. Overwhelming majority of the subjects (89.6%) developed jaundice within the 1st week of life. Significantly more inborn than outborn were preterm and exclusively breastfed, 25(30.1%) vs 14(19.7%) p = 0.001; 75(90.4%) vs 9(12.7%) p = 0.000 respectively. Also, significantly more outborn than inborn babies had exchange blood transfusion and kernicterus, 27(38%) vs 5(6%) p = 0.000; 14(19.7%) vs 1(1.2%) p = 0.000 respectively. Hence, there is need for sustained education of the general populace on the essence of regular antenatal supervision of pregnancy and delivery in appropriate health care facility to ultimately curb the incidence of severe NNJ.
Key words: Neonatal jaundice, aetiological factors, Abakaliki.
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