BACKGROUND: Key recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics guideline on management of severe hyperbilirubinemia in healthy infants of ≥35 weeks' gestation include predischarge screening for risk of subsequent hyperbilirubinemia, follow-up at 3 to 5 days of age, and lactation support. Little information is available on contemporary compliance with follow-up recommendations.
OBJECTIVE: To assess timing and content of the first newborn office visit after birth hospitalization in urban and suburban pediatric practices in Houston, Texas.
METHODS: We reviewed office records for the first visit within 4 weeks of birth during January through July 2006 for apparently healthy newborns with a gestational age of ≥35 weeks or birth weight of ≥2500 g seen within a pediatric provider network. For each pediatrician, we selected every fifth patient up to a total of 6.
RESULTS: Of 845 records abstracted, 698 (83%) were eligible for analysis. Infants were seen by 136 pediatricians in 39 practices. They had vaginal (64%) or cesarean (36%) deliveries at 20 local hospitals, of which 17 had routine predischarge bilirubin screening policies. Only 37% of all infants, 44% of vaginally delivered infants, and 41% of exclusively breastfed infants were seen before 6 days of age. Thirty-five percent of the infants were seen after 10 days of age. Among 636 infants seen at ≤15 days, jaundice was noted on examination in 33%; of these, 44% had bilirubin measured. Nine infants had phototherapy documented after birth hospitalization.
CONCLUSIONS: Among a large group of urban and suburban pediatricians, implementation of the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation for follow-up was inconsistent, and delayed follow-up was common. Understanding reasons for delayed follow-up and providing guidance for jaundice management may promote a safer first week of life.