French researchers suggest link between infant phototherapy and childhood skin moles

January 9, 2007

Paris - According to a French study reported in the December issue of Archives of Dermatology, infants who received phototherapy for jaundice appear to have an increased risk of developing skin moles in childhood.

Paris-According to a French study reported in the December issue of Archives of Dermatology, infants who received phototherapy for jaundice appear to have an increased risk of developing skin moles in childhood.

Some of these mole types are risk factors for developing melanoma.

Researchers at Bichat-Claude Bernard Hospital, here, assessed the presence of melanocytic nevi in 58 children who were 8 or 9 years old at the time of the study. Eighteen children had phototherapy as newborns; 40 who were the same age but did not have phototherapy as infants served as controls. All the children and their parents were interviewed about the use of phototherapy, history of sun exposure and sunscreen use. A dermatologist performed physical examinations on the children and recorded their skin color, eye color, hair color, skin type and the number and size of moles.

Thirty-seven children (63 percent) had moles that were 2 mm or larger, and there was an average of just more than two moles per child. Those who were exposed to phototherapy had significantly more moles of this size than those who did not (3.5, on average, versus 1.45 per child for the control group). When the analysis was limited to moles between 2 mm and 5 mm, the association was more significant.

The study did not examine whether phototherapy increases the risk for melanoma in adults, and it is possible that the small difference in the number of moles between the two groups would not change their risk of developing cancer. However, the researchers conclude that more research is needed regarding the link between melanoma and phototherapy.