BACKGROUND: Jaundice in near-term and term newborns is a frequent diagnosis that may prompt hospital readmission in the first postnatal week. Hyperbilirubinemia, when excessive, can lead to potentially irreversible bilirubin-induced neurotoxicity. Predischarge risk assessment (at 24-72 hours of age) for subsequent excessive hyperbilirubinemia is feasible by a laboratory-based assay of total serum bilirubin (TSB). Hypothesis. Noninvasive, transcutaneous, point-of-care measurement of transcutaneous bilirubin (TcB) predischarge by multiwavelength spectral analysis, using a portable BiliCheck device (SpectRx Inc, Norcross, GA), is clinically equivalent to measurement of TSB in a diverse, multiracial term and near-term newborn population and predictive of subsequent hyperbilirubinemia. METHODOLOGY: We evaluated a hand-held device that uses multiwavelength spectral reflectance analysis to measure TcB (BiliCheck). The study population (490 term and near-term newborns) was racially diverse (59.1% white, 29.5% black, 3.46% Hispanic, 4.48% Asian, and 3.46% other) and was evaluated at 2 separate institutions using multiple (11) devices. The postnatal age ranged from 12 to 98 hours and the ranges of birth weights and gestational ages were 2000 to 5665 g and 35 to 42 weeks, respectively. All transcutaneous evaluations were performed contemporaneously and paired with a heelstick TSB measurement. All TSB assays were performed by high performance liquid chromatography, as well as by diazo dichlorophenyldiazonium tetrafluoroborate techniques. RESULTS: TSB values ranged from .2 to 18.2 mg/dL (mean +/- standard deviation: 7.65 +/- 3.35 mg/dL). The overall correlation of TSB (by high performance liquid chromatography technique) to TcB (by BiliCheck devices) was linear and statistically significant (r =.91; r(2) =.83; TcB =.84; TSB = +.75; standard error of regression line = 1.38; P <.001; n = 490 infants; 1788 samples). Similar regression statistics were evident in subset populations categorized by race (white: r =.91 [n = 289 infants]; black: r =.91 [n = 145 infants]) as well as by gestation (term: r =. 91 [n = 1625 samples]; near-term: r =.89 [n = 163 samples]). Intradevice precision was determined to be.59 mg/dL (2-3 measurements per infant with 1 device; n = 210 infants; 510 samples in a separate subset). Interdevice evaluation of 11 devices determined the precision to be.68 mg/dL (2-4 devices used for measurements per patient). In 23 of 419 of the study population infants who were in the 24- to 72-hour age range, the predischarge TSB values designated them to be at high risk for subsequent excessive hyperbilirubinemia (above the 95th percentile track on the hour-specific bilirubin nomogram). For these infants, the paired BiliCheck TcB values were all above the 75th percentile track (negative predictive value = 100%; positive predictive value = 32. 86%; sensitivity = 100%; specificity = 88.1%; likelihood ratio = 8. 43). CONCLUSIONS: Our data demonstrate the accuracy and reproducibility of the predischarge BiliCheck measurements in term and near-term newborn infants of diverse races and ethnicities. Infants with predischarge BiliCheck values above the 75th percentile of hour-specific TSB values on the bilirubin nomogram may be considered to be at high risk for subsequent excessive hyperbilirubinemia. Further studies are needed to assess the efficacy of this technique in preterm infants, those undergoing phototherapy, and those with TSB values of >/=15 mg/dL (>/=256 micromol/L).