The UK NSC recommendation on Kernicterus screening in newborns

Recommendation Systematic population screening programme not recommended
Last review completed August 2016
Next review due in 2019/20
Key downloads

Find general information about population health screening.

Why is screening not recommended by UK NSC?

Universal newborn screening for Kernicterus is not recommended because:

• there is no clear evidence that screening would help to find babies at risk of developing kernicterus

• the test (bilirubin in the baby's bloodstream) is not a good predictor of whether the baby will develop kernicterus - so many would be treated unnecessarily

• current treatment options (phototherapy and exchange transfusion) can reduce bilirubin levels - but it is not known whether these are effective in preventing kernicterus 

More about Kernicterus

Kernicterus is a complication of neonatal jaundice, leading to a form of brain damage that can cause death or long term effects including cerebral palsy and hearing loss. Premature babies are most at risk. 

>>Read more about kernicterus on NHS Choices


Association for Improvements in the Maternity Services
Association of British Neurologists
British Association of Perinatal Medicine
British Society for Haematology Transfusion Taskforce
The Ear Foundation
Faculty of Public Health
Royal College of General Practitioners
Royal College of Midwives
Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health
Royal College of Pathologists
Royal College of Physicians
Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow
Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh

The stakeholder groups will be involved when the recommendation is next reviewed. If you think your organisation should be added, please contact us. More information for stakeholders can be found in appendix C of the UK NSC evidence review process.

Related documents

icon Summary and Consultation Responses for Newborn Kernicterus Screening (2012) (PDF document, 937KB, 11/12/12)

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