Light therapy blanket boosts cuddle time with newborn

22nd Sep 2023

A new light therapy treatment for newborn babies with jaundice is reducing hospital stays and allowing families to care for their little one at home.

The paediatric virtual wards team at Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust, have recently introduced a BiliCocoon, a light therapy blanket, to help reduce jaundice levels in newborn babies.

Jaundice can affect nine out of 10 babies. The signs include, yellowing of the skin, mucous membranes, and whites of their eyes due to an immature liver. At hospital, jaundice is treated by putting a baby inside a cot under the light, which means they have to be removed from the equipment to be fed or comforted.

The new light therapy blanket provides an alternative treatment for newborns within their own home. Initially, for the first 24 hours the newborn will be inside the light therapy blanket until their bloods are taken. Throughout the treatment, parents can feed and comfort their baby.

Mandeep Kaur and Jagjeet Singh recently became parents to Mehar who was suffering from jaundice. Mandeep said: “As a family, this treatment has saved us from travelling via public transport with a newborn and gave us the opportunity to be at home with our baby whilst treating her for jaundice. The virtual wards team are available one call away and have provided us with support throughout the treatment.”

The paediatric virtual ward team provide home visits and on-call support to new parents, by visiting once a day to carry out blood tests, offer support with feeding, discuss safe sleeping and check parents are happy with using the BiliCocoon.

The results from the blood tests will determine whether the baby needs to remain within the light therapy blanket.

Lorraine Paynter, paediatric virtual ward nurse, said: “The fact that parents can carry out this treatment at home is much more beneficial to the child and family. It means they can be in the comfort of their own home and this in itself can speed up recovery. We’re delighted with Mehar’s progress and now the family can carry on with their lives without worrying about her health.”

Since launching the treatment in June 2023, the light therapy treatment has helped to support 33 jaundiced babies across the local area and saved 76 bed days in the hospital.

Sophie Harris, Clinical Nurse Specialist within Paediatric Virtual Ward team said: “Since the introduction of the BiliCocoons which were purchased through funding provided by NHS England, the team have been able to support with early discharges and avoid hospital admissions. The aim for the future is to further reduce hospital admissions by supporting our community midwives and to continue to be able to treat more babies at home with jaundice.”

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