INTRODUCTION: Severe neonatal hyperbilirubinaemia can place a neonate at risk for acute bilirubin encephalopathy and kernicterus spectrum disorder. Early diagnosis is essential to prevent these deleterious sequelae. Currently, screening by visual inspection followed by laboratory-based bilirubin (LBB) quantification is used to identify hyperbilirubinaemia in neonates cared for at home in the Netherlands. However, the reliability of visual inspection is limited. We aim to evaluate the effectiveness of universal transcutaneous bilirubin (TcB) screening as compared with visual inspection to: (1) increase the detection of hyperbilirubinaemia necessitating treatment, and (2) reduce the need for heel pricks to quantify bilirubin levels. In parallel, we will evaluate a smartphone app (Picterus), and a point-of-care device for quantifying total bilirubin (Bilistick) as compared with LBB.
METHODS AND ANALYSIS: We will undertake a multicentre prospective cohort study in nine midwifery practices across the Netherlands. Neonates born at a gestational age of 35 weeks or more are eligible if they: (1) are at home at any time between days 2 and 8 of life; (2) have their first midwife visit prior to postnatal day 6 and (3) did not previously receive phototherapy. TcB and the Picterus app will be used after visual inspection. When LBB is deemed necessary based on visual inspection and/or TcB reading, Bilistick will be used in parallel. The coprimary endpoints of the study are: (1) hyperbilirubinaemia necessitating treatment; (2) the number of heel pricks performed to quantify LBB. We aim to include 2310 neonates in a 2-year period. Using a decision tree model, a cost-effectiveness analysis will be performed.
ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION: This study has been approved by the Medical Research Ethical Committee of the Erasmus MC Rotterdam, Netherlands (MEC-2020-0618). Parents will provide written informed consent. The results of this study will be published in peer-reviewed journals.
TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: Dutch Trial Register (NL9545).