Neonatal hyperbilirubinemia is an extremely common metabolic complication of the neonatal period which may be associated with bilirubin encephalopathy and even death. Adverse neurological consequences are preventable if a timely diagnosis and treatment are provided. Phototherapy is usually the preferred option to decrease hyperbilirubinemia. Although considered to be safe, evidence in recent years has shown that this treatment may not be free of side effects and short- and long-term unfavorable outcomes. These are usually mild or rare, but should be decreased or avoided if possible. Many useful complementary measures and treatments have been described that could shorten the duration of exposure to phototherapy. However, there is no current unequivocal recommendation to use any of the methods presented in this review. Our review aims to depict the wide range of possible complementary treatments to phototherapy, and to provide the scientific and clinical evidence available regarding their usefulness. It is essential that, while utilizing the full potential of phototherapy to treat hyperbilirubinemia, caregivers are aware of its side effects and possible inherent dangers, and seek ways to minimize the exposure to phototherapy to what is really needed for the newborn. Further studies are needed to clarify the preferred complementary treatments that could reduce the duration of exposure to phototherapy without impairing its effectiveness.
- neonatal hyperbilirubinemia (NHB)