Infants with jaundice who are treated with intensive light therapy -- the current standard treatment -- have a significantly increased risk of developing moles called melanocytic nevi as they grow older, French researchers report.
Given the link between such nevi and melanoma, they point out, it's important to keep a check on skin conditions and to take preventive measures for these children.
The findings, which appear in the Archives of Dermatology, are based on a study of 58 children, 8 to 9 years of age.
Eighteen children had been exposed to light therapy as newborns and 40 had not. All subjects resided in the same geographic area of France and were also matched for eye color, hair color and total UV exposure.
The kids who had undergone light therapy had a greater number of nevi than did unexposed children, Dr. Vincent Descamps, from the Bichat-Claude Bernard Hospital in Paris, and colleagues report.
Analysis confirmed a link between light therapy exposure and the number of nevi between 2 and 5 millimeters in diameter.
While the findings suggest an association between neonatal phototherapy and melanocytic nevi, they "must be interpreted with caution because of the small sizes of the exposed and nonexposed groups," the investigators state.