The yellow killer

 A newborn looks gorgeous and a little yellow!?  Why yellow?

Yellowing of eyes and skin are common symptoms of jaundice. Jaundice is a condition in which there is an excess of a pigment called bilirubin in the blood. Bilirubin is a natural by-product of red blood cells breaking down. It is processed by the liver and discarded through the stools. A mild level of jaundice is normal in a newborn and usually passes when there is a well-functioning liver. But the liver of a premature baby is not sufficiently developed. So bilirubin starts building up in the blood stream of the premature infant. If left untreated, the jaundice can cause brain death, also called kernicterus, or interfere with the development of the brain, leading to cerebral palsy.

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The treatment for jaundice was discovered in 1956. Sister Jean Ward, from the Premature Unit of Rochford General Hospital, in England, believed sunshine and fresh air had restorative properties for babies. She would wheel the babies in her care out on warm summer days. Once Dr. R.H. Dobbs noticed that the uncovered area of a baby was less yellow than the covered area. He questioned Sister Ward about this, and she reluctantly admitted to taking the baby out in the sun. She suggested that the exposure to the sun was the reason for the baby’s colour. Around the same time, the biochemist of the hospital had left a few samples of blood on the windowsill and measured the bilirubin level in them a little later. The level had dropped.

Thus it was found that light affected bilirubin. After intense research, the paediatricians of Rochford General Hospital published their findings in the Lancet in 1958. And the treatment for jaundice, ‘phototherapy’, was discovered. Light became an effective agent in the treatment, reducing the number of exchange transfusions drastically. Eventually, with the growth of technology, light bulbs and fluorescent tubes were used. Today LEDs producing light in the blue spectrum have been found to be the most effective treatment for jaundice.

D-rev has partnered with Phoenix Medical Systems to eliminate the effects of jaundice worldwide by 2022. D-rev is a non-profit organisation whose mission is to design and deliver quality medical equipment at an affordable cost. D-Rev identified Phoenix to be on the same page with them in terms of their mission. D-Rev partnered with Phoenix to manufacture and market the Brilliance Pro phototherapy unit globally. At the time this is being written, 415,900 babies have been treated using Brilliance Pro.

To understand how Phoenix and D-Rev are working on achieving their goal, visit

http://d-rev.org/projects/newborn-health/