Research:

Neonatal jaundice: Study shows effectiveness of phototherapy in reducing need for blood transfusions

The results (of the study) highlight the importance of providing enough intensive phototherapy units to treat all neonates requiring high-intensity treatment for a full course.

In Myanmar, approximately half of all neonatal hospital admissions are due to jaundice (hyperbilirubinemia), and a high rate of blood transfusions is needed to treat the affected newborns. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of a pilot Thrive Networks/East Meets West program in reducing these transfusions. A reduction in blood transfusions reflects early and effective treatment of jaundice.

The two-year study, which began in November 2011, was conducted in four national tertiary hospitals – two exclusively treating babies born in the hospital (118), and two solely treating babies born outside the hospital setting (140). Prior to intervention, no high-intensity phototherapy was available in these units.

The pilot program, which provided phototherapy equipment for newborns with jaundice, along with training for clinicians and technicians on using the equipment, helped lead to a 69% and 33% reduction in blood transfusions needed for newborns with jaundice born within and outside of the hospitals, respectively. The results highlight the importance of providing enough intensive phototherapy units to treat all neonates requiring high-intensity treatment for a full course.