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August 1960

Neonatal Jaundice and Mental Retardation

Arch Neurol. 1960;3(2):127-135. doi:10.1001/archneur.1960.00450020007002

Until quite recently, mental retardation in combination with a variety of neurologic abnormalities was a frequent finding in children who had survived hemolytic disease of the newborn. It has been known for some time that kernicterus, an acute acquired encephalopathy of the newborn period is the basis for these residues.

The term kernicterus was derived from the presence of bright yellow pigmentation in certain nuclear masses of the brain found at autopsy in infants dying in the acute phase and had at first purely pathologicanatomic connotations. Later it began to assume clinical meaning and now has come to refer to a variable but nonetheless characteristic acute neurologic syndrome observed in severely jaundiced newborn infants. Through clinical and pathologic studies1-3 it has become clear that kernicterus is not a specific complication of hemolytic disease of the newborn but may occur in a variety of situations affecting this age group which