Phototherapy is used worldwide for the treatment of hyperbilirubinemia; it is safe and it works. Although there exists a vast body of literature of human, animal, and laboratory investigation dealing with the mechanisms of action, biological effects, complications, and clinical use of phototherapy (and there are several excellent recent reviews1-4), personal experience suggests that there is considerable misunderstanding about how phototherapy works, how its dose is measured, and how it should be administered. Furthermore, both the way we use phototherapy today and the indications for its use (particularly in full-term infants) have changed.1

In a bygone era, when healthy newborns remained in the hospital for at least 3 days, and hyperbilirubinemia was treated aggressively,5,6 large numbers of infants who became modestly jaundiced (serum bilirubin levels of 10 to 13 mg/dL) received phototherapy and remained in the nursery until the bilirubin levels declined.

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