Phototherapy for the treatment of jaundice

Phototherapy for the treatment of jaundice

If your baby has normal (physiological) jaundice, no special treatment is needed. 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, no special treatment is needed.

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 can only be done in hospital.  

The treatment works best when as much skin as possible is exposed to the light, so your baby is undressed. Your baby may be placed in an incubator to keep warm during the treatment. Your baby's eyes are covered 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. Phototherapy is required until the level of bilirubin has dropped to a safer level (regular blood tests are needed to measure the bilirubin level). Phototherapy treatment is usually given 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. 

Go back to the page about jaundice in babies.

Thank you to Babylink for allowing use of the phototherapy photo.
http://www.babylink.info/Edinburgh/BabyOnUnit/BabiesJaundice.aspx [Accessed 6/11/2018]

This page last reviewed 17 February 2016.
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