Originally published by 2 Minute Medicine® (view original article). Reused on AccessMedicine with permission.

1. In a large cohort, phototherapy for neonatal hyperbilirubinemia is not associated with any childhood cancer.

Evidence Rating Level: 2

Phototherapy for the treatment of hyperbilirubinemia is ubiquitous in pediatric practices worldwide. Its simplistic application allows practitioners to address a common neonatal outcome that can potentially have severe implications, such as kernicterus. Although this therapy is thought to be safe, there have been concerns in the past that it could potentially be correlated with an increased incidence of cancers. In this multi-centre cohort study, researchers included 139,100 children born in Kaiser Permanente Northern California hospitals between 1995 to 2017 and who had a bilirubin level that qualified for the American Academy of Pediatrics phototherapy threshold. The participants were followed through March 16th, 2019 as means of tracking cancer incidence. The participants were identified as exposed to inpatient phototherapy or not, and the outcome observed was the incidence of childhood cancer of any type observed during the follow-up period. Using Cox proportional hazard models, researchers found that phototherapy did not have any association with any childhood cancer over a mean follow up period of 8.2 years. There was a slight increase in hazard ratio of no statistical significance for any cancer (hazard ratio [HR]: 1.13, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.83–1.54), hematopoietic cancer (HR: 1.17, 95% CI: 0.74–1.83), or solid tumors (HR: 1.01, 95% CI: 0.65–1.58). Study findings further reinforce the safety of phototherapy as a therapy for hyperbilirubinemia, and may be used to inform practitioners when having informed discussions with parents prior to therapy initiation.

©2021 2 Minute Medicine, Inc. All rights reserved. No works may be reproduced without expressed written consent from 2 Minute Medicine, Inc. Inquire about licensing here. No article should be construed as medical advice and is not intended as such by the authors or by 2 Minute Medicine, Inc.