Learning About Phototherapy for Newborns

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What is phototherapy for newborns?

Baby getting phototherapy for jaundice

Phototherapy treats jaundice in a newborn.

Jaundice occurs when a substance called bilirubin builds up in the blood. Jaundice can make a newborn's skin and eyes look yellow.

Very high bilirubin levels can cause serious problems. That's why treatment is very important.

How is it done?

The baby is exposed to a special type of light. This light is absorbed by the baby's skin. When this happens, the bilirubin changes to another form. It can then come out of the body in the baby's stool and urine.

Your baby may need to stay under this light for several days.

The doctor will do things to protect your baby's eyes and will check the baby's temperature. The doctor will also watch to make sure your baby's skin stays safe. And he or she will make sure that the baby gets enough fluid.

During phototherapy:

  • The baby is undressed. This exposes as much skin as possible to the light.
  • Heat keeps the baby's temperature normal.
  • The baby's eyes are covered. This protects them from the bright light.
  • You can feed your baby normally. You don't have to stop breastfeeding.
  • The bilirubin level is checked at least once a day.

Phototherapy usually doesn't damage a baby's skin.

Fibre-optic blankets and bands

Another type of phototherapy uses a special fibre-optic blanket or a band. This may be used for healthy babies with mild jaundice. The band or blanket wraps around your baby. You can use it at home.

A home health nurse may visit to make sure that the baby is doing well. The baby's blood may need to be checked every day.

Where can you learn more?

Go to http://www.healthwise.net/ed

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Current as of: July 26, 2016