Baltimore Hyperbilirubinemia & Kernicterus Lawyer
Infants born with severe jaundice are at risk of developing a brain injury known as Kernicterus. A newborn will develop jaundice when bilirubin develops in the bloodstream. When jaundice is not treated, the accumulation of bilirubin can rise to dangerous levels, spread to the brain, and cause permanent brain damage. To prevent Kernicterus from occurring, newborn babies must be carefully monitored and high levels of bilirubin must be treated promptly. When doctors fail to do this, it is a case of medical malpractice and you can file a claim to recover any losses you sustained as a result, contact a Baltimore hyperbilirubinemia and kernicterus lawyer today
Understanding Jaundice, Hyperbilirubinemia, and Kernicterus
Jaundice is a very common condition that affects more than half of newborn babies. Bilirubin is produced when the red blood cells in the body break down because the infant’s liver cannot process the bilirubin properly. This results in the infant being unable to eliminate the bilirubin and it accumulates in the body. Bilirubin is yellow in color and so, the skin of infants suffering from jaundice will turn slightly yellow.
When bilirubin in a baby’s body builds to dangerous or excessive levels, it is known as Hyperbilirubinemia. Phototherapy can change the bilirubin from being toxic to being non-toxic, so it is easier for the infant to eliminate. When Hyperbilirubinemia is not treated promptly, it can cause a brain injury known as Kernicterus.
Kernicterus is a condition that is known as a ‘never event.’ It is not called a never event because it does not occur, but because it should never occur. Kernicterus is entirely preventable and is caused by the negligence of healthcare providers. Kernicterus can result in intellectual disabilities, vision and hearing issues, and motor function issues.
Symptoms of Jaundice and Hyperbilirubinemia
The most common symptom of jaundice is a yellowing color of the infant’s skin. The yellow pigment may first appear in the eyes and face, but may then spread to other areas of the body. Other signs that an infant may have an excess of bilirubin in their system include:
- High-pitched, abnormal cry
- Jerky or stiff muscle tone, or muscle tone that is floppy and weak
- Lethargy or difficulty waking up
- Difficulty feeding
All infants should be examined for jaundice while they are still in the hospital, as the condition is of the most concern in the first 224 hours of life. Newborns should also be rechecked for jaundice when they are between three and five days old. A simple exam will show whether a baby has developed Hyperbilirubinemia and if they require treatment. It is important to detect the condition early to prevent the infant from developing brain injuries, such as Kernicterus.
Call Our Birth Injury Lawyer in Baltimore for a Free Consultation
Seeing your child suffering is devastating, particularly during a time that should be so joyous. At Wais, Vogelstein, Forman, Koch & Norman, LLC, our Baltimore birth injury lawyer can advise on the facts of your case and help you claim the financial compensation your family needs during this difficult time. Call us today at 410.567.0800 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.