Phototherapy and the Risk of Photo-Oxidative Injury in Extremely Low Birth Weight Infants

Clin Perinatol. 2016 Jun;43(2):291-5. doi: 10.1016/j.clp.2016.01.005. Epub 2016 Feb 17.


Phototherapy has been used to treat newborns with jaundice for more than 50 years with the presumption that it is safe and effective for all infants. In fact, this presumption may not be true for all infants, especially the smallest and most immature. The safety and efficacy of phototherapy have never really been questioned or adequately tested in the latter, yet clinical applications of phototherapy have been further refined as its mechanisms of action have been better understood and alternative light sources have become available. This article addresses what is known about the possible risks of photo-oxidative injury in extremely low birth weight infants.

Keywords: Bilirubin; Bilirubin-induced neurologic dysfunction; Photosensitivity; Reactive oxygen species.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Hematocrit*
  • Humans
  • Hyperbilirubinemia, Neonatal / therapy*
  • Infant, Extremely Low Birth Weight
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature
  • Jaundice, Neonatal / therapy*
  • Oxidative Stress*
  • Phototherapy / adverse effects*