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White Curtains Boost Neonatal Jaundice Phototherapy

Reflecting curtains offer simple, low-cost way to speed up the effects of phototherapy

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 8 (HealthDay News) -- The addition of white reflecting curtains to a neonatal phototherapy unit increases the efficacy of the treatment for neonatal jaundice with no side effects and at low cost, according to a study published in the November issue of the Archives of Disease in Childhood: Fetal and Neonatal Edition.

Hans Van Rostenberghe, M.B., B.Ch., of the Universiti Sains Malaysia in Kelantan, Malaysia, and colleagues conducted a study of 97 term newborns who presented with uncomplicated neonatal jaundice, of whom 50 were randomized to receive phototherapy in a unit with white curtains hanging from the sides, and 47 control patients in a unit without curtains.

After four hours of phototherapy, there was a significantly higher decrease in the mean total serum bilirubin level in the study group: 27.62 μmol/l versus 4.04 μmol/l for the control group. The median duration of treatment for the study group was 12 hours, compared with 34 hours for the control group. No difference in adverse reactions, including hyperthermia, hypothermia, rash, weight loss or feeding difficulties, was observed.

"This simple and cheap method may be of great use to neonatal units in developing nations, where acquisition and maintenance of a sufficient number of phototherapy units may be a challenge to limited budgets. These results can probably be extrapolated to settings outside Malaysia, assuming that the response to phototherapy is quite similar among different ethnic groups," the authors conclude.

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