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Baby Victor Santino

Phototherapy

Infants with neonatal jaundice are treated with colored light called phototherapy. Physicians randomly assigned 66 infants 35 weeks of gestation to receive phototherapy. After 15±5 the levels of bilirubin, a yellowish bile pigment that in excessive amounts causes jaundice, were decreased down to 0.27±0.25 mg/dl/h in the blue light. This shows that blue light therapy helps reduce high bilirubin levels that cause neonatal jaundice. [4]

 

Exposing infants to high levels of colored light breaks down the bilirubin. Scientists studied 616 capillary blood samples from jaundiced newborn infants. These samples were randomly divided into three groups. One group contained 133 samples and would receive phototherapy with blue light. Another group contained 202 samples would receive room light, or white light. The final group contained 215 samples, and were left in a dark room. The total bilirubin levels were checked at 0, 2, 4, 6, 24, and 48 hours. There was a significant decrease in bilirubin in the first group exposed to phototherapy after two hours, but no change occurred in the white light and dark room group. After 6 hours, there was a significant change in bilirubin level in the white light group but not the dark room group. It took 48 hours to record a change in the dark room group’s bilirubin level. Phototherapy is the most effective way of breaking down a neonate’s bilirubin. [5]

 

Phototherapy works through a process of isomerization that changes the bilirubin into water-soluble isomers that can be passed without getting stuck in the liver. [6][7]

 

In phototherapy, blue light is typically used because it is more effective at breaking down bilirubin (Amato, Inaebnit, 1991). Two matched groups of newborn infants with jaundice were exposed to intensive green or blue light phototherapy. The efficiency of the treatment was measured by the rate of decline of serum bilirubin, which in excessive amounts causes jaundice, concentration after 6, 12 and 24 hours of light exposure. A more rapid response was obtained using the blue lamps than the green lamps. However, a shorter phototherapy recovery period was noticed in babies exposed to the green lamps(1). Green light is not commonly used because exposure time must be longer to see dramatic results(1).

 

Light therapy may increase the risk of nevi, or skin moles, in childhood. Randomly, 36 nevi, or moles, received ultraviolet phototherapy. After exposure, the moles' average size increased from 4.7 mm2 to 5.3 mm2. This was observed in 28 of the 36 moles. Going further, an autoradiograph proved that each mole had an increase in melanocytes, keratinocytes and dermal cells (all skin cells) in comparison with the unexposed nevi, which in turn also increased the risk of melanoma (skin cancer) [8][9][10].

 

Increased feedings help move bilirubin through the neonate’s metabolic system [11].

 

The light can be applied with overhead lamps, which means that the baby's eyes need to be covered, or with a device called a Biliblanket, which sits under the baby's clothing close to its skin.

 

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Taken on September 8, 2009