Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust is using portable phototherapy blankets to reduce the length of hospital stays for jaundiced pre-term babies.

Funded by the Women’s Hospital Charity, the blankets use phototherapy technology to keep premature babies warm and to treat neonatal jaundice.

The blankets, known as biliblankets, work by shining a full spectrum fibre-optic light at babies’ bodies to generate heat. The phototherapy technology helps to reduce bilirubin levels – a yellowish pigment that causes discolouration in people with jaundice.

There is no risk of harm to the skin and special eye guards are used to protect the babies’ eyes from the light.

Nicola Speakman, who is part of the Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NICU governance team and lead for the Avoiding Term Admission In Neonatal Units (ATAIN) scheme, said: “Our biliblankets and cocoons are a big part of our national ATAIN scheme, to keep our jaundiced babies on the road to recovery.

“We’re also looking at bringing our blankets outside of our clinical environments into our Transitional Care team like NATS, so that we can begin keeping our parents and babies at home to form those important bonds in their early infant development.

“Our phototherapy technology also makes it easier for new mums to breastfeed, meaning that they are allowed the same breastfeeding experiences as other parents. It’s all about keeping our families together.”

Thanks to the portable nature of the blankets, parents can use them at home, helping to reduce the number of days premature babies have to remain in hospital, and preventing readmissions.

The phototherapy blankets are being used by various teams across Birmingham Women’s and Children’s neonatal services. This includes the Neonatal Community Outreach Team (NCOT), Neonatal Advice and Triage Services (NATS), Transitional Care Team and the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

This summer, the trust also deployed Citadel Health’s Evolution vLab laboratory information management systems (LIMS) across its pathology services.