Katelyn Bachman and her sister Zoe suffer from a condition which is known as Crigler-Najjar Syndrome, an extremely rare disorder. It requires the children to need to spend as much time as possible in the sun during the daytime, and to remain under a special blue light every night, including when they sleep.
This light exposure is necessary for the girls to survive, leading their mother to nickname them “little sunflowers”. If the girls did not have the blue light therapy on a daily basis, they would suffer debilitating muscle and nerve damage, as well as brain damage, and eventually death. The light, combined with medication for the condition, has been so effective that it has allowed them to be taken off the National Transplant list.
Crigler Najjar Syndrome affects fewer than 50 people in the United States and fewer than 200 people in the whole world. The condition is a metabolic disorder and is hereditary. It is caused by an enzyme deficiency in the liver which prevents bilirubin, a normal byproduct which results from the body’s natural disposal of red blood cells when the cells die, from being broken down in the blood as it should.
The blue light therapy allows Katelyn and her sister to naturally eliminate the excessive bilirubin levels in their bodies. These lights are highly effective and yet very gentle. Spending 8 to 10 hours under the lights every night (and more when the girls are ill, such as in the case of a cold or flu) is a treatment that is perfectly safe for the girls and they have experienced no side effects.
The use of phototherapy on Crigler Nijjar Syndrome patients is becoming increasingly widespread among in the United States, as well in other parts of the world, such as Europe and Australia. Blue light therapy for this condition most frequently involves 4 foot bulbs or 2 foot bulbs. In the Netherlands, there are special 5 foot bulbs that have been used extensively in Europe. The ideal spectrum for these bulbs should have a peak wavelength of 450 nanometers, with nothing below 400 nanometers or above 520 nanometers. At this intensity, blue light should not cause any unwanted side effects.