Fundamentals of phototherapy for neonatal jaundice

Adv Neonatal Care. 2006 Dec;6(6):303-12. doi: 10.1016/j.adnc.2006.08.004.


Phototherapy is the use of visible light for the treatment of hyperbilirubinemia in the newborn. This relatively common therapy lowers the serum bilirubin level by transforming bilirubin into water-soluble isomers that can be eliminated without conjugation in the liver. The dose of phototherapy largely determines how quickly it works; the dose, in turn, is determined by the wavelength of the light, the intensity of the light (irradiance), the distance between the light and the infant, and the body surface area exposed to the light. Commercially available phototherapy systems include those that deliver light via fluorescent bulbs, halogen quartz lamps, light-emitting diodes, and fiberoptic mattresses. Proper nursing care enhances the effectiveness of phototherapy and minimizes complications. Caregiver responsibilities include ensuring effective irradiance delivery, maximizing skin exposure, providing eye protection and eye care, carefully monitoring thermoregulation, maintaining adequate hydration, promoting elimination, and supporting parent-infant interaction.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bilirubin / metabolism
  • England
  • History, 20th Century
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature
  • Intensive Care Units, Neonatal
  • Jaundice, Neonatal / history
  • Jaundice, Neonatal / physiopathology
  • Jaundice, Neonatal / therapy*
  • Phototherapy / history
  • Phototherapy / instrumentation
  • Phototherapy / methods*
  • Phototherapy / nursing


  • Bilirubin