The Role of Umbilical Cord Alpha Fetoprotein as a Screening Tool for Neonatal Hyperbilirubinemia

Arieh Riskin*, M. David, B. Peskin, A. Tamir, O. Vafsi, Z. Leibovitz, S. Riskin-Mashiah, N. Israel, R. Merksamer, D. Bader

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Our aim was to test whether alpha fetoprotein (AFP) might serve as a marker of hepatic immaturity sufficient to predict an increased risk for neonatal hyperbilirubinemia (NHB) in term babies. We checked umbilical cord AFP (UC AFP) levels in 174 healthy full-term infants (male/female ratio 1.26:1) at birth. Bilirubin levels were measured upon discharge from the nursery on day 3 of life (mean, 57 ± 10 hours of life). Mean UC AFP was 60.2 ± 45. 9 mg/L. UC AFP levels were linearly correlated with subsequent bilirubin levels, and significantly higher bilirubin levels were found in neonates whose UC AFP levels were 100 mg/L or more. Although statistically significant correlation between UC AFP and subsequent NHB exists, UC AFP cannot currently be recommended for use in clinical practice because of its inability to serve as a screening tool for significant NHB in the individual newborn.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-98
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Perinatology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Alpha fetoprotein
  • Neonatal hyperbilirubinemia
  • Umbilical cord


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