Eighty-eight babies whose birthweights were between 1500 g and 2500 g, and whose serum bilirubin reached 10 mg/100 ml, were entered into a controlled trial of phototherapy. Alternate babies were treated with 4000 to 5000 lux, and control cases were not treated unless the bilirubin exceeded 15 mg/100 ml. No baby in the treated group developed a serum bilirubin greater than 15 mg/100 ml, compared with 44% of untreated cases, a highly significant difference. No side effects occurred apart from overheating in a few babies. We conclude that phototherapy is a safe and effective way of treating hyperbilirubinaemia in low birthweight infants, and suggest it should be started when the bilirubin reaches 12 mg/100 ml, except for babies under 1500 g birthweight when it should be started at 10 mg/100 ml.
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