Objective: To determine whether the addition of low-cost reflecting curtains to a standard phototherapy unit could increase effectiveness of phototherapy for neonatal jaundice.
Design: Randomised controlled clinical trial.
Setting: Level-one nursery of the Hospital Universiti Sains Malaysia, Kelantan, Malayasia.
Patients: Term newborns with uncomplicated neonatal jaundice presenting in the first week of life.
Interventions: Phototherapy with white curtains hanging from the sides of the phototherapy unit (study group, n = 50) was compared with single phototherapy without curtains (control group, n = 47).
Main outcome measures: The primary outcome was the mean difference in total serum bilirubin measured at baseline and after 4 h of phototherapy. The secondary outcome was the duration of phototherapy.
Results: The mean (standard deviation) decrease in total serum bilirubin levels after 4 h of phototherapy was significantly (p<0.001) higher in the study group (27.62 (25.24) μmol/l) than in the control group (4.04 (24.27) μmol/l). Cox proportional hazards regression analysis indicated that the median duration of phototherapy was significantly shorter in the study group (12 h) than in the control group (34 h; χ2 change 45.2; p<0.001; hazards ratio 0.20; 95% confidence interval 0.12 to 0.32). No difference in adverse events was noted in terms of hyperthermia or hypothermia, weight loss, rash, loose stools or feeding intolerance.
Conclusion: Hanging white curtains around phototherapy units significantly increases efficacy of phototherapy in the treatment of neonatal jaundice without evidence of increased adverse effects.
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Published Online First 28 July 2006
Competing interests: None.
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