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It is possible that the main title of the report Kernicterus is not the name you expected.

Disorder Subdivisions

  • None

General Discussion

Kernicterus is a rare neurological disorder characterized by excessive levels of bilirubin in the blood (hyperbilirubinemia) during infancy. Bilirubin is an orange-yellow bile pigment that is a byproduct of the natural breakdown of hemoglobin in red blood cells (hemolysis). Toxic levels of bilirubin may accumulate in the brain, potentially resulting in a variety of symptoms and physical findings. These symptoms may include lack of energy (lethargy), poor feeding habits, fever, and vomiting. Affected infants may also experience the absence of certain reflexes (e.g., Moro reflex, etc.); mild to severe muscle spasms including those in which the head and heels are bent backward and the body bows forward (opisthotonus); and/or uncontrolled involuntary muscle movements (spasticity). In some cases, infants with kernicterus may develop life-threatening complications.

Supporting Organizations

American Liver Foundation

39 Broadway, Suite 2700
New York, NY 10006
Fax: (212)483-8179
Tel: (800)465-4837

Genetic and Rare Diseases (GARD) Information Center

PO Box 8126
Gaithersburg, MD 20898-8126
Tel: (301)251-4925
Fax: (301)251-4911
Tel: (888)205-2311

March of Dimes

1275 Mamaroneck Avenue
White Plains, NY 10605
Tel: (914)997-4488
Fax: (914)997-4763
Email: or
Website: and

NIH/National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive & Kidney Diseases

Office of Communications & Public Liaison
Bldg 31, Rm 9A06
Bethesda, MD 20892-2560
Tel: (301)496-3583

Parents of Infants and Children with Kernicterus (P.I.C.K.)

One W. Superior Street
Suite 2410
Chicago, IL 60610
Tel: (312)274-9695

For a Complete Report

This is an abstract of a report from the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD). For a full-text version of this report, go to and click on Rare Disease Database under "Rare Disease Information".

The information provided in this report is not intended for diagnostic purposes. It is provided for informational purposes only.

It is possible that the title of this topic is not the name you selected. Please check the Synonyms listing to find the alternate name(s) and Disorder Subdivision(s) covered by this report.

This disease entry is based upon medical information available through the date at the end of the topic. Since NORD's resources are limited, it is not possible to keep every entry in the Rare Disease Database completely current and accurate. Please check with the agencies listed in the Resources section for the most current information about this disorder.

Last Updated:  2/5/2008
Copyright  2004 National Organization for Rare Disorders, Inc.