HealthDay News — Neonatal phototherapy is not associated with type 1 diabetes, according to a study published in Pediatrics.

Thomas B. Newman, MD, MPH, from the University of California in San Francisco, and colleagues conducted a retrospective cohort study involving 499,642 children born at at least 35 weeks of gestation from 1995 to 2011. Phototherapy, bilirubin levels, and other covariates were ascertained from electronic records. A diabetes registry and inpatient and outpatient diagnoses were used to identify type 1 diabetes cases.

The researchers observed an increase in phototherapy use from 2.7% in 1995 to 16% in 2011. Type 1 diabetes was diagnosed in 37 of 39,406 children who had received phototherapy and in 712 of 460,236 who had not (15.1 vs 18.8 per 100,000 person-years). No evidence was found for increasing incidence of diabetes. 

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Phototherapy was not associated with type 1 diabetes in unadjusted analyses (incidence rate ratio, 0.81; 95% CI, 0.56-1.12) or after adjustment for hyperbilirubinemia and other covariates (hazard ratio, 1.06; 95% CI, 0.78-1.45). The strongest correlation for type 1 diabetes incidence was seen for race and ethnicity, with the highest risk for whites (25.6 per 100,000) and lowest risk for Asians (8.9 per 100,000).

“We found no evidence of increased type 1 diabetes risk in children who had received phototherapy,” the researchers wrote.

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  1. Newman TB, Wickremasinghe AC, Walsh EM, Grimes BA, McCulloch CE, Kuzniewicz MW. Phototherapy and risk of type 1 diabetes. Pediatrics. 2016 Oct 19. doi:10.1542/peds.2016-0687.