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Henry Ford Hospital Medical Journal

Abstract

Three bundled twenty-eight infants weighing more than 2500 grams were studied for the effect of low dose phenobarbital (15 mg/day) upon third and fifth day serum bilirubin levels. The groups were divided according to sex, race and type of treatment. Controls were made for the possible effect of the 14% ethanol contained in phenobarbital elixir. It was found that males had higher mean serum bilirubin levels than females, Caucasians had higher mean serum bilirubin levels than Negroes, and control infants had higher serum bilirubin values than those infants treated with phenobarbital. However, in those patients who had lower serum bilirubin levels without treatment (Negro females), phenobarbital had little effect, while in the group which had high serum bilirubin levels (Caucasian males) phenobarbital was very effective in reducing the serum bilirubin. The results of the study suggest that differences of race and sex may have had an effect upon discrepancies in previous studies. Variations between the maturity of the glucuronyl transferase system in males and females and in Caucasians and Negroes are suggested by our findings. No immediate side effects of treatment of newborn infants with phenobarbital were observed.

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