“Phototherapy” is the medical term used for treating disorders of the skin such as jaundice by using ultraviolet and infrared radiation. “Photo” is from the Greek word “photos” meaning light, and “therapy” is from the Greek word “therapies” meaning to treat medically
By Sjona Lindquist
“Phototherapy” is the medical term used for treating disorders of the
skin such as jaundice by using ultraviolet and infrared radiation.
“Photo” is from the Greek word “photos” meaning light, and “therapy” is
from the Greek word “therapies” meaning to treat medically. A premature
baby often needs this special kind of light treatment because preemies
are frequently afflicted with jaundice. Jaundice is a condition that
must be treated by medical interventions such as bililights,
biliblankets and exchange transfusion. If severe jaundice is left
untreated, it causes brain damage to the premature baby.
“Jaundice” is a yellowish discoloration caused by bile salts depositing
in the tissues of the whites of the eyes, skin, and mucous membranes.
It is a normal process for the body to break down red blood cells
bilirubin. However, a premature baby will develop jaundice when their
bilirubin level is too high, and the immature liver of a preemie is not
efficient enough to remove the bilirubin from the bloodstream. Special
lights (bililights) are able to penetrate a preemie’s skin and break down the
bilirubin in the blood turning it into lumirubin.
“Phototherapy lights” (bililights) are lights specifically designed to
put out wavelengths of light from the blue part of the light spectrum.
The chemical reaction occurring changes bilirubin to lumirubin, and
form is harmless to the premature baby allowing it to pass from her
body. While your premature baby is receiving phototherapy light
treatments, her eyes will be covered by a mask or cloth shielding them
from direct exposure to light that may not be good for her eyes.
Phototherapy treatment usually lasts from a week to ten days.
A “Biliblanket” is a fiber optic blanket that may be used instead of
bililights and is just as effective. The biliblanket has a fiber optic
pad delivering microwatts of therapeutic light, and it can be taken
home to use
if necessary. The advantage of using a biliblanket for your premature
baby is that it allows more surface exposure to the lights, it is
easier to use, eye covering is not necessary, and phototherapy is not
interrupted during feeding and bonding.
“Exchange transfusion, substitution transfusion, or total transfusion”
is the process of removing most of the blood from your premature baby’s
body, while at the same time substituting it with equal amounts of
donor blood. When bilirubin levels are too high, it becomes very
dangerous for your baby. The best course of action is to replace your
premature baby’s blood with donor blood having no bilirubin in it.
Sjona Lindquist is a mom of 6 (1 angel) and she owns and operates
BabyLinq.com ~ Preemie Store. BabyLinq.com ~ Preemie Store is a
resource site and specialty shop for parents of premature babies.
Lindquist’s daughter was stillborn from a Strep B infection due to PROM
(Premature Rupture of Membranes). In honor of her daughter, Michaela,
she offers preemie support, bereavement support, and preemie clothes.
Some of the products include micro preemie clothes, preemie bereavement gowns, and Preemie
dresses. If a new preemie has entered your life or someone
you love, drop by and visit us! BabyLinq.com ~ Preemie Store
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