Visible Light Therapy of Neonatal Hyperbilirubinemia

  • Thomas R. C. Sisson


In 1877 General Augustus J. Pleasonton proposed, in a remarkable address to the Philadelphia Society for Promoting Agriculture, that blue light would cure certain diseases and increase the yield of crops and the fecundity of domestic beasts. His proposals were buttressed with the results of his own research—an endeavor permitted the educated amateur in those days. He published his work in a book, tastefully bound and printed in blue (Fig. 1). Within a year a preposterous craze for blue light spread across the country which lasted for over a decade. Interest in blue light (sunlight filtered through blue glass) gradually waned, and for the next 70 or more years the medicinal virtues of light (except heliotherapy for the treatment of tuberculosis) were accepted only by cultists and quacks. Perhaps because of this unfortunate, almost ludicrous history, American physicians rejected any Fig. 1. “Phototherapy” 100 years ago. The first American treatise on the uses of blue light. thought of light as a mode of medical treatment and ignored its use in the management of jaundice in the newborn infant, a condition which, if unchecked, can be crippling to a severe degree.


Newborn Infant Exchange Transfusion Bilirubin Concentration Orotic Acid Neonatal Jaundice 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1976

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas R. C. Sisson
    • 1
  1. 1.School of MedicineTemple UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA

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