Pilot study of home phototherapy for neonatal jaundice monitored in maternity ward during the enforced Italy-wide COVID-19 national lockdown

Eur J Pediatr. 2022 Sep;181(9):3523-3529. doi: 10.1007/s00431-022-04557-x. Epub 2022 Jul 15.


In Italy, where neonatal jaundice treatment is required, it is largely carried out in hospitals. However, it is possible to safely administer home phototherapy (HPT). We report our pilot center's experience of HPT and its potential benefits during the COVID-19-enforced national lockdown. This is an observational study performed at the Policlinic Abano Terme, a suburban hospital that covers a large catchment area near the Euganean Hills in Northeast Italy with around 1000 deliveries per year. HPT was started after regular nursery discharge, and the mothers brought the neonates back to the hospital maternity ward each day to check infants' bilirubin levels, weight, and general state of health, until it was deemed safe to stop. The efficacy of HPT in bilirubin reduction, hospital readmission rates, and parental satisfaction were evaluated. Thirty infants received HPT. In 4 of these infants, HPT was associated with total serum bilirubin (TSB) between 75 and 95th percentile (high-intermediate-risk zone) and in 26 infants HPT was associated with TSB > 95th percentile (high-risk zone) of the Bhutani nomogram. Among these 30 infants, 27 (90%) completed the HPT with a progressive decrease of TSB levels with 4 neonates requiring a second course and 3 infants requiring a third course of 24-h HPT. Three (10%) neonates failed HPT and were readmitted after one 24-h phototherapy course. No abnormalities of breastfeeding, body weight (defined as > 10% decrease), temperature, nor COVID infections were detected following HPT consultation in the neonatal ward. Home treatment efficacy with varying degrees of parental satisfaction occurred in all but 3 cases that involved difficulties with the equipment and inconsistent lamp manipulation practices.

Conclusion: Our pilot study suggests that HPT for neonatal jaundice can be carried out effectively and with parental satisfaction as supported by daily back bilirubin monitoring in the maternity ward during the enforced COVID-19 national lockdown in Italy.

What is known: • No high-quality evidence is currently available to support or refute the practice of phototherapy in patients' own homes.

What is new: • Phototherapy can be delivered at home in a select group of infants and could be an ideal option if parents are able to return with their infants to the hospital maternity ward for daily follow-up. • It can be as effective as inpatient phototherapy and potentially helps in delivering family-centered care.

Keywords: COVID-19-enforced lockdown; Home phototherapy; Neonate; Phototherapy.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Bilirubin
  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • Communicable Disease Control
  • Female
  • Hospitals
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Jaundice, Neonatal* / epidemiology
  • Jaundice, Neonatal* / therapy
  • Neonatal Screening
  • Phototherapy
  • Pilot Projects
  • Pregnancy


  • Bilirubin