After birth, the body of the newborn infant breaks down excess red blood cells. During this process, the yellow-brownish pigment bilirubin is produced as a by-product. If this pigment cannot be broken down by the still immature liver, its level in the blood rises and it is deposited in the tissues. The skin and the eyes turn yellow. This neonatal jaundice is usually harmless and subsides within a few days.
However, in one in 50 newborns, the bilirubin level rises to the point where it needs to be treated. Fortunately, there is a simple light therapy in which the almost naked baby is placed in an incubator under blue light with a wavelength of 460 nm.
This causes a chemical conformational change in the bilirubin stored in the newborn's skin. During this process, the initially water-insoluble indirect bilirubin is converted into a readily water-soluble structural isomer that can be excreted without difficulty in the bile.
Of course, the intensity of this therapy light should be checked regularly. For this purpose, ILT has two bilirubin light meters in its product range – the ILT750-Bili and the ILT750-BILI454 BiliBlanket (replacing the discontinued Ohmeda BiliBlanket II light meter).