In this review the historical tenets and evidence-based clinical research in support of a bilirubin exchange threshold of >20 mg/dL for the healthy term neonate are revisited. In addition, a hypothesis is ventured that recent cases of kernicterus are related in part to changes in population factors coupled with genetic predispositions that have unmasked an unappreciated potential for marked neonatal hyperbilirubinemia.

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