The Effectiveness of Phototherapy in Premature Infants (1968)
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In 1968, pediatric researchers Jerold Lucey, Mario Ferreiro, and Jean Hewitt conducted an experimental trial that determined that exposure to light effectively treated jaundice in premature infants. The three researchers published their results in 'Prevention of Hyperbilirubinemia of Prematurity by Phototherapy' that same year in Pediatrics. Jaundice is the yellowing of the skin and eyes due to the failure of the liver to break down excess bilirubin in the blood, a condition called hyperbilirubinemia. Bilirubin is a product that results from the degradation of red blood cells, which the immature liver of premature infants often has difficulty breaking down. Lucey's group's study demonstrated both the efficacy of phototherapy, which uses light to breakdown the bilirubin in the blood, as treatment for hyperbilirubinemia. As a result of Lucey's research team's study, physicians adopted phototherapy as the standard of care for treating premature infants born with jaundice.