Phototherapy For The Treatment Of Jaundice

Phototherapy For The Treatment Of Jaundice

If your baby has normal (physiological) jaundice, they don't need any special treatment. If the bilirubin level is high, the most commonly used treatment is phototherapy (bright light therapy).

Image of baby receiving phototherapy (bright light therapy)

If your baby has normal (physiological) jaundice, they don't need any special treatment.

If your baby's bilirubin level is high, the most commonly used treatment is phototherapy (bright light therapy). It does not contain rays that would harm your baby. Phototherapy is very safe and effective and is only available in hospital.  

The treatment works best when as much skin as possible is exposed to the light. Hospital staff will:

  • undress your baby
  • put your baby in an incubator to keep warm during the treatment
  • cover your baby's eyes to shut out the bright light

Phototherapy works by changing the bilirubin in the skin into a form that will not cause deafness or brain damage. Your baby needs phototherapy until the level of bilirubin has dropped to a safer level. Your baby needs regular blood tests to measure the bilirubin level. Babies usually have phototherapy treatment for 48 hours, but often longer for bilirubin levels that remain high.

Usually, phototherapy is the only medical treatment needed. A small number of babies with severe jaundice need blood transfusions to replace red blood cells that have been used up, and to dilute out the bilirubin. 

See page about jaundice in babies.

Thank you to Babylink for allowing use of the phototherapy photo.
http://babylink.scot.nhs.uk/Pages/default.aspx[Accessed 29/04/2019]

This page last reviewed 17 February 2016.
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