Orginal Publication Date
MCV/Q, Medical College of Virginia Quarterly
All the observations suggest that phenobarbital and light may be of therapeutic value in controlling neonatal hyperbilirubinemia. In pregnancies in which one might anticipate increased bilirubin formation by the newborn baby, the use of phenobarbital during pregnancy and in the neonatal period, and exposure of the infant to light may provide methods other than exchange transfusion to reduce the concentration of serum bilirubin in the infant. Clinical trials should proceed cautiously, however, since phenobarbital is known to stimulate the activity of liver microsomal enzymes that metabolize, steroids, hormones, and other normal body substrates. It is not known whether this effect would be harmful if it occurred in the human fetus or neonate. Pediatricians should consider phototherapy in the same cautious manner as they would the use of a new drug available for the treatment of newborn infants. Considering the state of ignorance on this subject, research into the long-term effects of phototherapy is clearly needed.
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