METHODS: A cohort of 385 children (201 boys, 54.5%) born in 2010 in Taiwan attended a 6-year follow-up visit including a questionnaire, an interview by physicians, fractional exhaled nitric oxide (FeNO), and serum testing for total and allergen-specific immunoglobulin E. Asthma, allergic rhinitis, and atopic dermatitis were defined on the basis of physician’s diagnosis.
RESULTS: The rate of physician-diagnosed asthma was significantly higher in children with a history of neonatal jaundice (OR:2.722; 95% CI:1.192-6.214; p=0.017), after adjustment for gender, maternal age, maternal education, and family economic status. A sex-stratified analysis revealed a stronger association of neonatal jaundice with asthma in boys than in girls. Among asthmatic children, there were no significant differences in FeNO levels, serum total IgE levels, or the rate of allergic sensitization between subjects with and without a history of neonatal jaundice. There was no significant association of neonatal jaundice with allergic rhinitis (OR:2.024; 95% CI:0.843-4.800; p=0.115) or atopic dermatitis (OR:1.946; 95% CI:0.819-4.623; p=0.132), after adjusting for confounders.
CONCLUSIONS: The cohort study of Asian children provides supportive evidence that neonatal jaundice is associated with an increased risk of asthma by 6 years of age. We are conducting further studies with a larger sample size to confirm the findings in this pilot study.