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Hyperbilirubinemia, Phototherapy, and Childhood Asthma

Our aim was to quantify the associations of both hyperbilirubinemia and phototherapy with childhood asthma using a population-based cohort with total serum bilirubin (TSB) levels. Retrospective cohort study of infants born at ?35 weeks’ gestation in the Kaiser Permanente Northern California health system (n = 109?212) from 2010 to 2014. Cox models were used to estimate hazard ratios (HRs) for a diagnosis of asthma. In the study, 16.7% of infants had a maximum TSB level of ?15 mg/dL, 4.5% of infants had a maximum TSB level of ?18 mg/dL, and 11.5% of infants received phototherapy. Compared with children with a maximum TSB level of 3 to 5.9 mg/L, children with a TSB level of 9 to 11.9 mg/dL, 12 to 14.9 mg/dL, and 15 to 17.9 mg/dL were at an increased risk for asthma (HR: 1.22 [95% confidence interval (CI): 1.11-1.3], HR: 1.18 [95% CI: 1.08-1.29], and HR: 1.30 [95% CI: 1.18-1.43], respectively). Children with a TSB level of ?18 mg/dL were not at an increased risk for asthma (HR: 1.04; 95% CI: 0.90-1.20). In propensity-adjusted analyses, phototherapy was not associated with asthma (HR: 1.07; 95% CI: 0.96-1.20). Modest levels of hyperbilirubinemia were associated with an increased risk of asthma, but an association was not seen at higher levels. No dose-response relationship was seen. Using phototherapy to prevent infants from reaching these modest TSB levels is unlikely to be protective against asthma.

Authors: Kuzniewicz MW; Niki H; Walsh EM; McCulloch CE; Newman TB

Pediatrics. 2018 10;142(4). Epub 2018-09-12.

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