Giving infants "light therapy" to treat their jaundice may boost their risk of skin moles during childhood, French researchers report.
Some types of moles can raise risks for melanoma skin cancer, the team pointed out.
Jaundice affects between 45% and 60% of healthy newborns and as many as 80% of premature babies, according to background information in the article, which is published in the December Archives of Dermatology.
In this study, researchers at Saint-Antoine Hospital, Paris, examined 58 children, ages 8 or 9, for the presence of melanocytic nevi (moles). Eighteen of the children had phototherapy when they were newborns.
Overall, 37 of the children had moles that were 2 millimeters or larger, and there were an average of 2.08 moles per child. The children who'd had phototherapy (light therapy) had more moles than the other children (an average of 3.5 vs. 1.45). When the analysis was limited to moles between 2 millimeters and 5 millimeters, the association between phototherapy and moles was stronger, the study said.
Moles smaller than 2 millimeters in diameter "may represent more recent nevi, whereas those nevi due to early event should be larger," the researchers wrote. "Nevi larger than 5 millimeters probably are congenital nevi and are most probably associated with genetic predisposition."
"Higher numbers of acquired benign nevi are associated with increased risk of melanoma," the study authors concluded. "A detailed examination of the factors responsible for the development of nevi in children would be useful to identify high-risk groups to be targeted for prevention. The link between melanoma and phototherapy should be the focus of such a study."
HealthDay News, December 20, 2006