Kernicterus Birth Injuries Result from Improperly Treated Jaundice

Jaundice is a condition that causes skin and eye discoloration. It has a range of risks including devastating birth injuries. Many cases are not too severe, whereas others are life-threatening. It can also affect a variety of age ranges. Many infants, in particular, are at risk of jaundice. The most severe cases of infant jaundice lead to kernicterus.

Kernicterus, if left untreated, can cause severe infant brain damage. The best way of dealing with this condition is truly just prevention. Jaundice is easily treatable. Allowing it to progress further without treatment leads to kernicterus, and the damage it causes is serious.

What is Kernicterus and How is it Related to Jaundice?

Jaundice is caused by high levels of bilirubin. Bilirubin is a substance that the body produces as part of its waste removal pathways. Bilirubin is usually removed from the body. However, failure to remove this can cause its accumulation. This is the primary cause of jaundice. In infants, the most severe cases of jaundice can cause kernicterus.

Kernicterus happens when the levels of bilirubin become too high and spread to the brain and other parts. The bilirubin eventually causes damage to the brain. Even though this disease is much rarer than jaundice, it should also be taken note of. This is because the damage that kernicterus causes is serious.

What are the signs and symptoms of Kernicterus in an infant?

Some signs and symptoms that accompany kernicterus include the following:

  • Discoloration of the skin and the eyes. Babies with jaundice or kernicterus have abnormally yellow eyes or skin.
  • Sleepiness and lethargy. Infants with kernicterus are difficult to wake from sleep. It is also difficult for a baby with kernicterus to stay awake.
  • Lack of appetite. Infants with kernicterus do not feed well.
  • Abnormalities in the muscles. Infants with kernicterus sometimes have stiff muscles. These can also seem overly soft in other cases.
  • Fever. The body temperature of babies with kernicterus is higher than normal.
  • Abnormally high-pitched cry. Babies with kernicterus have a cry that is of a higher pitch than the normal.

If kernicterus is allowed to progress further, the following complications and effects are possible:

  • Loss of hearing: Kernicterus can cause deafness.
  • Developmental problems: Brain damage caused by kernicterus can cause abnormalities in development as a child grows.
  • Learning Problems: The brain damage caused by kernicterus can also hinder a child from learning.
  • Difficulty in movement: Many cases of kernicterus cause movement problems later on in life.

What Causes Kernicterus?

Jaundice is common, and often low-risk, in newborns and infants. Improper treatment or misdiagnosis of jaundice can lead to kernicterus.

Fortunately, jaundice is a very manageable condition. However, improper treatment or foregoing medications can cause jaundice to progress. If you suspect that there was medical malpractice involved, seek a lawyer for help. The complications caused can lead to severe problems. These tend to be costly to address. A settlement from a malpractice suit can help mitigate these costs. The Clark Law Office can help you with these cases.

How is Kernicterus Diagnosed and Treated?

There are methods of checking for jaundice and kernicterus in babies. There are ways aside from checking for the symptoms shown above. Using a device called a light meter can check for bilirubin levels in an infant. This can also be done through the use of blood tests and exams.

Treatments for kernicterus include the following:

  • Blood transfusions can help offset the high amounts of bilirubin in the baby’s blood.
  • Medications and formulas can also help an infant in dealing with kernicterus.
  • Light therapy exposes the baby to light for removing excess bilirubin.

For the most severe cases, complications are unavoidable. The treatment for these complications also become necessary later on in the child’s life. Depending on the severity of brain damage, therapy sessions may be required. These therapy sessions aim to improve the child’s functions.

Talk to a Michigan Kernicterus Lawyers For Immediate Help

If you suspect that your child’s kernicterus is a result of malpractice, it’s crucial that you consult with a lawyer as soon as possible. Jaundice is supposed to be easily treatable, and improper treatment of jaundice can lead to kernicterus. The Clark Law Office can help you and your child dealing with this unfortunate situation. Dealing with the complications of kernicterus can be quite costly and it can easily cause a major financial burden. Depending on circumstances, our lawyers can help you get the necessary funds to deal with these costs. You may contact us through +1 (517) 347-6900 for a free consultation.  We charge no fees for all birth injury cases.