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Premature baby receiving light therapy

David Bishop, Royal Free Hospital, London

Download this image from Wellcome Collection.

A newborn baby receives light therapy in the Starlight Neonatal Unit at Barnet Hospital in London. This baby was born prematurely and has jaundice, a common condition where waste from the breakdown of red blood cells builds up in the blood, causing the skin and eyes to turn yellow. This waste, bilirubin, is normally removed by the liver, but in newborn babies the liver is not yet fully developed so cannot always do this efficiently. In a small number of cases jaundice may be a sign of an underlying health problem. This baby is being treated in a special incubator and lies under a blue-green light with their eyes covered.

Imaging technique: clinical photography

Photographs of patients, taken with their consent, can be used to diagnose and record their conditions during the stages of treatment. Photographs can be taken in a photographic studio, during clinic, on the ward or in an operating theatre as required. Visually recording this common form of non-invasive treatment provides an inside view into what at first glance may look like a frightening environment.

Location where image was created

London, UK

Why was this image chosen as the Julie Dorrington winner?

“Cocooned in an incubator, a tiny premature baby sleeps while receiving phototherapy to combat the threat of jaundice. The whole image is cast in a beautiful blue light – the judges felt it perfectly captured the vulnerability of a newborn, whilst keeping a respectful and discreet distance from the subject.”

Fergus Walsh, BBC Medical Correspondent

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