Efficacy of phototherapy for neonatal jaundice is increased by the use of low-cost white reflecting curtains

Arch Dis Child Fetal Neonatal Ed. 2006 Nov;91(6):F439-42. doi: 10.1136/adc.2006.095687. Epub 2006 Jul 28.


Objective: To determine whether the addition of low-cost reflecting curtains to a standard phototherapy unit could increase effectiveness of phototherapy for neonatal jaundice.

Design: Randomised controlled clinical trial.

Setting: Level-one nursery of the Hospital Universiti Sains Malaysia, Kelantan, Malayasia.

Patients: Term newborns with uncomplicated neonatal jaundice presenting in the first week of life.

Interventions: Phototherapy with white curtains hanging from the sides of the phototherapy unit (study group, n = 50) was compared with single phototherapy without curtains (control group, n = 47).

Main outcome measures: The primary outcome was the mean difference in total serum bilirubin measured at baseline and after 4 h of phototherapy. The secondary outcome was the duration of phototherapy.

Results: The mean (standard deviation) decrease in total serum bilirubin levels after 4 h of phototherapy was significantly (p<0.001) higher in the study group (27.62 (25.24) micromol/l) than in the control group (4.04 (24.27) micromol/l). Cox proportional hazards regression analysis indicated that the median duration of phototherapy was significantly shorter in the study group (12 h) than in the control group (34 h; chi(2) change 45.2; p<0.001; hazards ratio 0.20; 95% confidence interval 0.12 to 0.32). No difference in adverse events was noted in terms of hyperthermia or hypothermia, weight loss, rash, loose stools or feeding intolerance.

Conclusion: Hanging white curtains around phototherapy units significantly increases efficacy of phototherapy in the treatment of neonatal jaundice without evidence of increased adverse effects.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Bedding and Linens
  • Bilirubin / blood
  • Color
  • Equipment Design
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Jaundice, Neonatal / economics
  • Jaundice, Neonatal / therapy*
  • Male
  • Phototherapy / economics
  • Phototherapy / instrumentation*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Bilirubin