Jaundice, Elevated Bilirubin, and Kernicterus: What You Need to Know

Doctors and other health workers in Michigan are required to afford proper care and treatment to their patients, especially when it comes to vulnerable individuals like babies. Detecting early symptoms of defects and diseases is necessary, as it helps prevent the aggravation of such cases.

Jaundice is one of the most common conditions that affect newborn babies. In fact, 6 out of babies develop jaundice, and 5% of those people will have serious cases that will warrant a need for proper treatment from doctors. As a parent, you have to ensure that your children are properly taken care of by their doctors if ever he or she has jaundice.

What Are Jaundice and Kernicterus?

Jaundice is perhaps one of the most recognizable conditions that can afflict vulnerable individuals like babies. In this condition, there is an elevation in the rate of bilirubin levels which, if left untreated, can lead to more serious conditions like kernicterus.

Kernicterus is the aggravated version of jaundice. It is a rare type of permanent brain damage that is incredibly harmful, but also easily preventable. The best way to avoid facing kernicterus is by treating jaundice as soon as it presents itself.

The easiest way to spot jaundice is to check the baby’s skin color. If it’s anything other than yellow, then your child is not affected by jaundice. However, if your child’s skin color becomes yellow, then it might be time to visit your doctor and begin treatment. Doctors should be able to easily tell if the patient has jaundice, so it would be best to approach a doctor if you suspect possible cases.

What Causes Elevated Bilirubin Levels?

Jaundice happens when there’s an elevated level of bilirubin in the body. Here are the most common risk factors and causes of bilirubin elevation:

Babies who are born earlier than the pronounced due date are at risk of developing high levels of bilirubin.

The internal bleeding or bruising caused by traumatic and prolonged deliveries can cause jaundice.

Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE) is a type of brain injury caused by the lack of oxygenated blood in the brain. Children who present this symptom is at risk of having elevated bilirubin levels, which in turn leads to jaundice.

Difficult deliveries that utilize tools like vacuum extractors and forceps should be supervised well to avoid bleeding under the scalp, a condition known as Cephalohematoma.

Newborns who encounter severe infections like sepsis are at risk of developing jaundice.

If the newborn encounters any of the listed risk factors above, they need to be on guard to make sure that they do not develop jaundice. On the off-chance that they do, they must make sure that it gets treated by doctors properly.

Signs and Symptoms of Jaundice on Newborns

It’s often tricky to spot jaundice if babies have darker skin colors. Fortunately, skin color isn’t the only symptom to pinpoint jaundice on newborns. Here are other signs and symptoms of jaundice.

  • Yellowing features

Yellowing features on the whites of the eyes, on the palms, soles of the feet, and inside the mouth are symptoms of jaundice. You must approach your kid’s doctor immediately if you see yellowing on any of these areas in the body.

  • Neck or body arched backward

If the child has an unusual posture that prefers a backward-arched neck or body, they may have jaundice.

  • Inability to gain weight

If your child is unable to gain weight even with constant feeding, the same can be due to jaundice.

  • Observe urine and stools

Examine the stools and urine of your child. Dark yellow urine and pale stools usually mean that your child is at risk of jaundice.

  • Lethargy or Tiredness

Coupled with poor feeding and their inability to gain weight, having no energy is a sign that your child may have jaundice.

Individually, these symptoms may not directly lead to jaundice. However, when piled together, there’s a high chance that your child may have jaundice that, if left unchecked, may lead to permanent brain damage. If you suspect that your newborn has jaundice, it is necessary to approach your doctor and get treatment immediately.

Legal Assistance for Jaundice and Kernicterus Cases in Michigan

Jaundice is easy to diagnose and treat; however, it can lead to a permanently-damaging condition like Kernicterus if not treated properly. If your child has been diagnosed with Jaundice and it still led to Kernicterus even with treatment, then it might be good to look into how the treatment process was performed. 

It’s best to approach expert lawyers for birth injuries in Michigan. With The Clark Law Office’s years of experience in the industry, you can be sure that you will be best represented legally. Contact us today and let’s discuss your case.

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