Intended for healthcare professionals


Phototherapy and risk of epilepsy . . . and other stories

BMJ 2018; 363 doi: (Published 18 October 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;363:k4265

Childhood seizures after phototherapy

A follow-up study of Danish babies with neonatal hyperbilirubinaemia who had been treated with phototherapy discovered a modest increase in the risk of childhood epilepsy. The finding has now been replicated in a large database analysis from the US (Paediatrics doi:10.1542/peds.2018-0648). Phototherapy is associated with an increase in the likelihood of epilepsy by 30% to 40% and the risk seems to be greater in boys than girls. The underlying mechanism is a puzzle because the excess risk persists after adjusting for the level of bilirubin that prompted …

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