In the standard
form of phototherapy, your baby lies in a bassinet or enclosed plastic crib
(incubator) and is exposed to a type of fluorescent light that is absorbed by
your baby's skin. During this process, the bilirubin in the baby's body is
changed into another form that can be more easily excreted in the stool and
A baby with jaundice may need to stay under a phototherapy
light for several days. Phototherapy doesn't damage a baby's
During this type of phototherapy:
The baby is undressed so that as much of the skin
as possible is exposed to the light.
baby's eyes are covered to protect the nerve layer at the back of the eye
(retina) from the bright light.
should continue on a regular schedule. There is no need to stop
The bilirubin level is measured at least once a
Potential problems that may occur during this standard form
of phototherapy include:
Damage to the nerve layer at the
back of the eye (retina), if the eyes are not properly
Dehydration, if the infant does not
receive adequate fluids when feeding.
Difficulty in maintaining the
proper body temperature.
Another type of phototherapy is a fiber-optic blanket or a
band. These devices wrap around a baby and can be used at home. Although
fiber-optic phototherapy has been shown to reduce bilirubin levels, it takes
longer than conventional phototherapy done in a hospital setting. It can be a
good alternative for babies with mild jaundice who are otherwise
If your baby is being treated
at home for jaundice, it is important that you understand how to use all the
equipment. Ask your health professional for help if you have questions or
concerns. A home health nurse may visit to make sure all is going well. The
amount of bilirubin in your baby's blood may need to be measured daily.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.