Photo Credit: USAID
Light-emitting diodes not only use less energy, they give off better light than those compact fluorescents, without using mercury. Add to the list: LEDs also are being used to help babies born with severe jaundice, which can lead to brain damage and death.The first baby treated using LEDs is named, appropriately, "Hope." According to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the technology is called D-Rev's Brilliance device. It was used in a neonatal care intensive unit in Ogbomoso, Nigeria. The baby had been diagnosed with severe jaundice and needed an exchange blood transfusion to prevent brain damage or death.
But a local doctor was unwilling to do a tranfusion, due to the baby's low birth weight of 2.6 pounds. Hope slept one night under Brilliance, however, and no longer required a transfusion, USAID officials report.
Severe jaundice is a fairly common problem worldwide, affecting more than 1 in 10 newborns. This device has been around a couple of years, but was just highlighted recently by the usa.gov blog.
D-Rev, the California company that makes the Brilliance device, says jaundice is the No. 1 reason why newborns are admitted to hospitals worldwide. But if detected early enough, jaundice can be treated with 2-3 days of blue light on a baby's skin. The Brilliance devices are being sold at a low cost, about $400, to make blue phototherapy treatment available at public hospitals in India and low-income countries.
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