The consequence of phototherapy exposure on oxidative stress status of expressed human milk

J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med. 2019 Jan;32(1):46-50. doi: 10.1080/14767058.2017.1370702. Epub 2017 Sep 4.


Objective: There exists evidence that phototherapy can disturb the oxidant/antioxidant balance in favor of oxidants. If phototherapy is continued during tube feeding in preterms, expressed human milk is subjected to phototherapy lights for about 20 min per feeding. We aimed to investigate the effects of phototherapy lights on oxidative/antioxidative status of expressed human milk.

Study design: Milk samples of 50 healthy mothers were grouped as control and phototherapy and exposed to 20 min of day-light and phototherapy light, respectively. Total antioxidant capacity (mmol-Trolox equiv/L) and total oxidant status (mmol-H2O2/L) in expressed human milk samples were measured.

Results: Levels of antioxidant capacity of the expressed human milks in the phototherapy group were lower than those of the control group [mmol-Trolox equiv/L; median (interquartile-range): 1.30 (0.89-1.65) and 1.77 (1.51-2.06), p: < .001]. Levels of oxidant status were similar in both groups.

Conclusion: We demonstrated that phototherapy decreased antioxidant capacity of expressed human milk without any alteration in oxidative status. We think that this observation is important for the care of very low birth weighted infants who have limited antioxidant capacity and are vulnerable to oxidative stress. It may be advisable either to turn off the phototherapy or cover the tube and syringe to preserve antioxidant capacity of human milk during simultaneous tube feeding and phototherapy treatment.

Keywords: Expressed human milk; neonate; oxidative stress; phototherapy.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Milk, Human / radiation effects*
  • Oxidative Stress / radiation effects*
  • Phototherapy*
  • Prospective Studies