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Portable Biliblankets Provide Phototherapy for Babies with Jaundice

Many newborns need to be treated for jaundice in the hospital. Now they can go home with a portable therapy unit, thanks to donors to Sauk Prairie Healthcare Foundation.

“All families want to be able to take their baby home as soon as possible,” said Todd Wuerger, Executive Director of the Foundation, which purchased two “biliblankets” for the Birth Center that can be loaned to parents so they can provide phototherapy at home.

In the first week of life, sixty percent of full-term infants develop jaundice and 80 percent of premature infants develop jaundice.

Jaundice in newborns is caused by a buildup of bilirubin in the blood. The newborn or preterm infant liver is not developed to rid the body of bilirubin, causing jaundice, a yellowing color of the skin or eyes. Phototherapy is needed to break down excess bilirubin, as high bilirubin levels can lead to serious health conditions if not treated immediately.

In the past, infants with jaundice needed to stay in the hospital under bilirubin lights until the situation resolved. This often takes an additional day, or more. Today biliblankets can be placed around the infant so they can receive phototherapy anywhere, including at home.

One of the first babies to use the biliblanket at Sauk Prairie Healthcare was Maverick Jones, son of Teresa Landes and Alexander Jones.

“We had a slightly extended stay with Maverick as he was born at 35 weeks and had high bilirubin,” explained Landes. “…Because of the phenomenal Birth Center staff and Sauk Prairie Healthcare Foundation, we were able to be discharged home on a Friday evening with the biliblanket. The process was so easy when the nurses said, ‘We have one you can borrow!’

“This alleviated the stress of taking home our first baby. We didn’t have to worry about how many days Maverick would require the biliblanket; we just knew we could snuggle our sweet new baby at home as soon as possible while getting his bilirubin down with the help of the biliblanket for as long as Maverick needed it.”

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