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Fed Proc. 1987 Apr;46(5):1883-5.

Photodegradation of riboflavin in neonates.


The biologically most important flavins are riboflavin and its related nucleotides, all highly sensitive to light. It is because of its photoreactivity and its presence in almost all body fluids and tissues that riboflavin assumes importance in phototherapy of neonatal jaundice. The absorption maxima of both bilirubin and riboflavin in the body are nearly identical: 445-450 (447) nm. In consequence, blue visible light will cause photoisomerization of bilirubin accompanied by photodegradation of riboflavin. This results in diminished erythrocyte glutathione reductase, which indicates generalized tissue riboflavin deficiency and red cell lysis. Single- and double-strand breaks in intracellular DNA have occurred with phototherapy. This light exposure of neonates may result also in alterations of bilirubin-albumin binding in the presence of both riboflavin and theophylline (the latter frequently given to prevent neonatal apnea). Many newborns, especially if premature, have low stores of riboflavin at birth. The absorptive capacity of premature infants for enteral riboflavin is likewise reduced. Consequently, inherently low stores and low intake of riboflavin plus phototherapy for neonatal jaundice will cause a deficiency of riboflavin at a critical period for the newborn. Supplementation to those infants most likely to develop riboflavin deficiency is useful, but dosage, time, and mode of administration to infants undergoing phototherapy must be carefully adjusted to avoid unwanted side effects.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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