Did you know massage decreases the amount of time phototherapy is needed?
Jaundice in neonates is a common problem, effecting 60-80% of babies. Historically the primary treatment for jaundice has been phototherapy, but phototherapy is not without risks. Side effects include rash, diarrhea, hyperthermia, dehydration, possible increased risk in childhood cancer, and physical separation from the caregiver during treatment. Other treatments have been used in conjunction with or in place of phototherapy in the past such as massage, bathing, enemas and accupunture, but which treatment is the most effective? In a 2020 article, Abdellatif et al discussed their meta-analysis of literature to find the most effective treatment for neonatal jaundice. They used research databases to review 27 articles for quantitative analysis with the goal of identifying which treatment decreased bilirubin levels on the 3rd, 4th and 14th days of life. Results showed that massage 1-2 times per day, in conjunction with phototherapy, reduced the hours of phototherapy treatment during the 3rd and 4th days, decreased the time from meconium to yellow stools, increased the number of stools, and showed a statistically significant effect on weight gain. Although the massage did not prevent phototherapy statistically, massage did reduce the number of hours of phototherapy, thus decreasing the infant’s exposure to the light, reducing side effects, and decreasing the physical distance between the baby and the family.
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