Bilirubin Phototherapy Benefits and Side Effects
During bilirubin phototherapy an undressed infant is exposed to bright blue lights that are proven to help process higher than normal bilirubin levels in newborns. Protective eye shield is recommended to guard delicate baby’s eyes from harsh phototherapy lights and avoid retina damage.
Bilirubin phototherapy can be successfully carried out both at the hospital or at home depending on the seriousness of infant’s condition. Generally, babies require several days of bilirubin phototherapy to help them break down excessive levels of bilirubin. Adequate hydration with breast milk or formula is necessary as part of the bilirubin phototherapy to excrete bilirubin pigment through urine and stools and avoid dehydration due to exposure to the lights.
Bilirubin phototherapy is overall considered a very safe method that has been used to treat neonatal hyperbilirubinemia for over thirty years.
Sometimes bilirubin phototherapy can cause mild but unfortunate side effects like skin burns, rashes, excessive tanning and skin irritation. Changing baby’s position every so often during the light therapy is believed by some medical experts to reduce the likelihood of skin irritation. Elimination of excessive bilirubin levels from baby’s blood can cause diarrhea stools in babies which are considered normal and expected during neonatal jaundice recovery stage.
All newborns undergoing bilirubin phototherapy must have their temperature levels along with the color of their skin closely monitored to avoid overheating and skin burns.
As soon as bilirubin levels return to normal levels, bilirubin phototherapy is discontinued but bilirubin levels need to be continuously monitored for the next few days.
Bilirubin phototherapy is a very effective treatment for neonatal hyperbilirubinemia combined with adequate breast milk or formula feedings to ensure proper excretion of bilirubin and dehydration control.