Background: Special blue fluorescent tubes are recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) as the most effective light source for lowering serum bilirubin. A high-intensity light-emitting diode ('super LED') could render intensive phototherapy more effective than the above conventional methods. This study compared the efficacy and safety of a high-intensity light-emitting diode bed vs conventional intensive phototherapy with triple fluorescent tube units as a rescue treatment for severe unconjugated neonatal hyperbilirubinaemia.
Method: This was a randomised, prospective trial. Two hundred jaundiced neonates ≥ 35 weeks gestation who met the criteria for intensive phototherapy as per AAP guidelines were randomly assigned to be treated either with triple fluorescent tube units (group 1, n = 100) or a super LED bed (group 2, n = 100). The outcome was the avoidance of exchange transfusion by successful control of hyperbilirubinaemia.
Results: Statistically significant higher success rates of intensive phototherapy were achieved among neonates treated with super LED (group 2) than in those treated conventionally (group 1) (87% vs 64%, P = 0.003). Significantly higher 'bilirubin decline' rates were reported in both haemolytic and non-haemolytic subgroups treated with the super LED bed compared with a similar sub-population in the conventionally treated group. Comparable numbers of neonates in both groups developed rebound jaundice (8% vs 10% of groups 1 and 2, respectively). Side-effects were mild in both groups, but higher rates of hyperthermia (12% vs 0%, P = 0.03), dehydration (8% vs 2%, P = 0.26) and skin rash (39% vs 1%, P = 0.002) were reported in the fluorescent tubes-treated group compared with the LED group.
Conclusions: Super LED is a safe rescue treatment for severe neonatal hyperbilirubinaemia, and its implementation may reduce the need for exchange transfusion.
Keywords: High-intensity light-emitting diode; Hyperbilirubinaemia; Intensive phototherapy; Super LED; Term neonates.