Association Between Neonatal Phototherapy Exposure and Childhood Neoplasm

Adva Bugaiski-Shaked, Eilon Shany, Oded Mesner, Ruslan Sergienko, Tamar Wainstock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Objective: To study the association between phototherapy for the treatment of neonatal jaundice and the risk of childhood neoplasms. Study design: This population-based retrospective cohort study included all infants born at ≥32 weeks of gestation at a single medical center between 1988 and 2018. The incidence of neoplastic diseases was compared between infants exposed to phototherapy and those unexposed. Kaplan–Meier curves and log-rank tests were used for cumulative incidence comparison, and multivariable Cox and Weibull survival analysis were used to adjust for confounding or clinically significant variables. Results: The study population included 342 172 infants, of whom 18 797 (5.5%) were exposed to phototherapy. The median duration of follow-up was 9.5 years (range, birth to 18 years). Phototherapy was associated with a significantly increased risk for childhood malignancies and benign tumors (preterm birth and maternal age–adjusted hazard ratio, 1.89 [95% CI, 1.35-2.67] for malignancies and 1.27 [95% CI, 1.02-1.57] for benign tumors) Specifically, phototherapy was associated with hematopoietic cancers and leukemia (hazard ratio, 2.29 [95% CI, 1.48-3.54; P < .01] for hematopoietic cancers and 2.51 [95% CI, 1.52-4.14; P < .001] for leukemia), but not with solid tumors and lymphoma. Conclusions: Phototherapy may be associated with a slightly increased childhood risk of neoplasm. It is important to strictly follow phototherapy treatment guidelines to minimize unnecessary exposure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-116
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Pediatrics
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2022


  • childhood benign tumors
  • childhood malignancy
  • hyperbilirubinemia
  • neonatal jaundice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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