Background: Phototherapy is a widely used treatment modality for unconjugated hyperbilirubinemia in newborn infants. We investigated whether phototherapy leads to oxidative stress in preterm newborns.
Methods: Thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBRS) were measured in the blood of 30 icteric preterm newborn infants, before and after 96 hours of continuous blue-light phototherapy. The mean (SD) gestational age was 32.3 (1.8) weeks and birth weight was 1606 (288) grams. The mean age of onset of jaundice was 44 (21.4) hours.
Results: The maximum total serum bilirubin was 14.6 (1.5) mg/dL and that after phototherapy was 8.6 (0.8) mg/dL. TBRS levels after phototherapy were significantly higher than those before phototherapy (11.4 [2.9] vs. 6.9 [2.2] nmol/L; [p<0.001]).
Conclusion: Blue-light phototherapy induces an oxidative stress in preterm neonates.