Marengo CIMS Hospital is dedicated to providing comprehensive healthcare services and fostering patient well-being. As part of our commitment to patient education, we have developed the Marengo CIMS Hospital Medical Encyclopedia—an invaluable online resource designed to empower patients with knowledge about various medical conditions, treatments, and preventive measures. This encyclopedia serves as a trusted and accessible repository of medical information, allowing patients to make informed decisions regarding their health and collaborate more effectively with healthcare professionals.


Kernicterus is a rare but devastating condition that affects newborn infants, primarily due to severe jaundice. In the context of India, where infant mortality rates are still high, understanding and addressing the risk factors, symptoms, diagnostic tests, treatment options, and prevention techniques for kernicterus are crucial. In this article, we will explore the intricacies of kernicterus while aiming to explain complex medical terminologies in simple layman language.

What is Kernicterus? :

Kernicterus is a neurological disorder caused by the accumulation of bilirubin in the brain. Bilirubin is a yellow pigment produced when red blood cells break down. Under normal circumstances, the liver processes and eliminates bilirubin from the body. However, in some cases, excessive bilirubin accumulates, leading to a condition known as hyperbilirubinemia. When hyperbilirubinemia reaches high levels, it can cause brain damage, resulting in kernicterus.

Signs and Symptoms of Kernicterus:

The signs and symptoms of kernicterus can vary, but they often include:

  • Yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice)
  • High-pitched cry
  • Poor feeding or sucking
  • Lethargy or decreased responsiveness
  • Muscle stiffness or arching of the back
  • Seizures
  • Developmental delays and intellectual disabilities

How is Kernicterus Classified? :

Kernicterus is classified based on the timing of onset and the severity of symptoms:

  •  Acute Bilirubin Encephalopathy (ABE): This is the early stage of kernicterus. It typically occurs within the first few days of life and is characterized by signs such as lethargy, poor feeding, and high-pitched crying.
  • Chronic Bilirubin Encephalopathy (CBE): If acute bilirubin encephalopathy goes untreated, it can progress to chronic bilirubin encephalopathy. This stage is characterized by irreversible neurological damage, resulting in long-term disabilities.

 Causes and Triggers for Kernicterus:

Several factors can contribute to the development of kernicterus in newborns:

  •  Prematurity: Premature babies have immature livers, making them more susceptible to bilirubin accumulation.
  •  Breastfeeding difficulties: Inadequate breastfeeding or poor milk supply can lead to dehydration and decreased bowel movements, which can contribute to the buildup of bilirubin.
  •  Blood type incompatibility: When a baby’s blood type is incompatible with that of the mother, it can cause an immune reaction leading to increased bilirubin production.
  •  Certain medical conditions: Certain conditions, such as glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency or liver disease, can impair the liver’s ability to process bilirubin effectively.

Risk Factors with Examples of Kernicterus:

While kernicterus can occur in any newborn, certain risk factors increase the likelihood:

  • Previous sibling with kernicterus: If a family has a history of kernicterus, subsequent infants are at a higher risk.
  • Ethnicity: Certain ethnic groups, such as people of South Asian or Mediterranean descent, have a higher prevalence of genetic conditions that increase the risk of kernicterus.
  • Delayed or inadequate medical intervention: Inadequate monitoring and delayed treatment for jaundice can lead to the progression of hyperbilirubinemia and increase the risk of kernicterus.

Types of Kernicterus:

Kernicterus can manifest in different forms, each with specific characteristics:

  • Bilirubin-induced Neurologic Dysfunction (BIND): This type of kernicterus is characterized by neurological abnormalities without obvious clinical signs of bilirubin toxicity.
  • Acute Bilirubin Encephalopathy (ABE): ABE is the initial phase of kernicterus, presenting with acute neurological symptoms, such as seizures and lethargy.
  • Chronic Bilirubin Encephalopathy (CBE): CBE refers to the chronic and irreversible consequences of untreated or undertreated kernicterus. It may result in motor impairments, hearing loss, and intellectual disabilities.

Diagnostic Tests and Treatment Options:

To diagnose and treat kernicterus, healthcare professionals employ various methods:

  • Total Serum Bilirubin (TSB) Test: This blood test measures the concentration of bilirubin in the baby’s blood, helping determine the severity of jaundice.
  •  Transcutaneous Bilirubinometry (TcB): This non-invasive method measures bilirubin levels using a device placed on the baby’s skin, providing a quick estimate of bilirubin levels.
  •  Phototherapy: Phototherapy involves exposing the baby’s skin to special lights that help break down bilirubin and facilitate its elimination from the body.
  •  Exchange Transfusion: In severe cases of kernicterus, exchange transfusion may be required. This process involves replacing the baby’s blood with donor blood to remove excess bilirubin.

 Complications and Prevention Techniques:

Kernicterus can lead to long-term complications, including:

  • Hearing loss
  • Vision problems
  • Intellectual disabilities
  • Motor impairments
  • Preventing kernicterus involves:
  •  Timely medical intervention: Regular monitoring of bilirubin levels and prompt treatment of jaundice can prevent the progression to kernicterus.
  • Adequate breastfeeding: Ensuring proper breastfeeding support and addressing any feeding difficulties promptly can help prevent dehydration and subsequent bilirubin buildup.
  • Education and awareness: Educating healthcare professionals, parents, and caregivers about the risk factors, signs, and symptoms of kernicterus is essential for early identification and intervention.

Kernicterus, a condition characterized by severe jaundice and neurological damage in newborns, requires specialized care and treatment. In India, where infant healthcare is of utmost importance, Marengo Asia Hospitals stands out as a leading healthcare provider dedicated to addressing the needs of patients with kernicterus. In this article, we will explore how Marengo Asia Hospitals across India can effectively handle patients with kernicterus, providing them with comprehensive care and support.

Comprehensive Care for Kernicterus Patients:

Marengo Asia Hospitals is renowned for its multidisciplinary approach, ensuring that patients with kernicterus receive comprehensive care. Here’s how the network handles patients with kernicterus:

Specialized Neonatal Units:

The network’s hospitals boast state-of-the-art neonatal units equipped with advanced technology and a highly skilled medical team. These units are designed specifically to cater to the unique needs of newborns, including those with kernicterus. The hospitals prioritize the early detection and management of hyperbilirubinemia to prevent its progression to kernicterus.

Experienced Medical Professionals:

Marengo Asia Hospitals houses a team of experienced healthcare professionals, including neonatologists, pediatricians, nurses, and support staff, who are well-versed in the diagnosis and treatment of kernicterus. These professionals are trained to provide specialized care, closely monitor patients, and administer appropriate treatments based on individual needs.

Diagnostic Expertise:

Accurate diagnosis is crucial in managing kernicterus effectively. The hospitals within Marengo Asia Hospitals are equipped with advanced diagnostic facilities, allowing for precise assessment of bilirubin levels. They employ methods such as Total Serum Bilirubin (TSB) tests and Transcutaneous Bilirubinometry (TcB) to measure bilirubin concentrations accurately. These tests aid in determining the severity of jaundice and guide treatment decisions.

Individualized Treatment Plans:

Each patient with kernicterus requires a personalized treatment plan tailored to their specific condition and needs. Marengo Asia Hospitals excels in developing individualized treatment strategies based on factors such as the patient’s age, bilirubin levels, overall health, and any underlying medical conditions. Treatment options may include phototherapy, exchange transfusion, or a combination of both, depending on the severity of kernicterus.

Cutting-edge Technologies:

The network’s hospitals utilize cutting-edge technologies and equipment for the treatment of kernicterus. Phototherapy units with specialized lights are employed to help break down bilirubin and facilitate its elimination from the body. These advanced technologies ensure efficient and targeted treatment, minimizing the risk of complications associated with kernicterus.

Rehabilitation and Support Services:

Kernicterus can result in long-term neurological impairments and developmental delays. Marengo Asia Hospitals recognizes the importance of comprehensive care beyond the initial treatment phase. They provide rehabilitation services, including physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy, to help patients with kernicterus reach their full potential and enhance their quality of life. The hospitals also offer counseling and support services to patients and their families, ensuring emotional well-being throughout the journey.

Community Outreach and Education:

Marengo Asia Hospitals actively engages in community outreach and education initiatives to raise awareness about kernicterus. They conduct awareness programs, seminars, and workshops to educate parents, caregivers, and healthcare professionals about the risk factors, early signs, and preventive measures associated with kernicterus. By empowering the community with knowledge, the network aims to facilitate early detection and intervention, reducing the prevalence of kernicterus in India.

Marengo Asia Hospitals across India has established itself as a leading provider of specialized care for patients with kernicterus. Through their comprehensive approach, experienced medical professionals, advanced technologies, and rehabilitation services, they ensure that newborns with kernicterus receive the best possible care.


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Marengo CIMS Hospital
Off Science City Road, Sola, Ahmedabad – 380060
Gujarat, INDIA

24×7 Helpline +91 70 69 00 00 00
Phone: 079 4805 1200 or 1008
+91 79 2771 2771 or 72
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