Brain Damage From Jaundice

Jaundice & Brain Damage

Jaundice is one of the most common conditions in newborn babies. How common exactly? About 3 in 5 babies are born with some form of jaundice. That’s why we’ve come to look at jaundice as something completely normal. Something that will usually go away on its own or with just the mildest form of intervention. Rarely do people associate jaundice with something more extreme. But did you know jaundice can be severe? So severe that some babies suffer brain damage from jaundice?

Thankfully, modern medicine is able to quickly treat mild forms of jaundice. But without proper treatment or if things are brushed off, it can become severe.

If your child suffered brain damage from jaundice due to a malpractice, get in touch with us. We may be able to help you receive compensation you deserve. And hold a negligent physician accountable. Contact Hampton & King today.

Baby suffers from brain damage from jaundice.

Brain Damage From Jaundice: An Overview

Jaundice is commonly known as a condition which causes a yellow-ish color in newborns. But what does that mean? Why does the skin and the whites of eyes turn yellow? To understand jaundice, you must first know what bilirubin is.

Bilirubin is a chemical product that results from the breakdown of red blood cells. When a baby is in the mother’s womb, the mother’s liver removes bilirubin for the baby. Once earth side, the baby’s own liver must work to remove it. In some babies, the liver may not be developed enough to efficiently remove the bilirubin. This is especially common in premature babies. When there is an excessive buildup of bilirubin in a baby, it shows up as jaundice.

When severe jaundice is left untreated for too long, it can lead to a condition known as kernicterus. Kernicterus is brain damage from jaundice. This rare form of brain damage may quickly become life threatening. It can also introduce a host of other conditions that can decrease the quality of life. 

Kernicterus Symptoms

How are doctors able to differentiate between mild and severe cases of jaundice? What tell-tale signs should they be looking for? What might suggest that a baby might be in route of suffering brain damage from jaundice?

Mild jaundice is usually associated with mild discoloration of the skin. However, when the entire body looks extremely yellow/orange, there may be reason for concern. 

Other kernicterus symptoms include:

  • Hypertonia – if the baby is too stiff
  • Hypotonia – if the baby is too floppy
  • Arching of the back and head combined with high pitched crying
  • Lethargy to a point where it is hard to wake baby up
  • Fever
  • Not breastfeeding or sucking well
  • General fussiness
  • Seizures

The Relationship Between Kernicterus & Malpractice

If your child or other loved one suffered from kernicterus, unfortunately, it may be due to a medical provider’s negligence. Here’s the thing. This rare, life-threatening condition is avoidable in many cases. Doctors must be proactive about jaundice and test bilirubin levels. They should also be looking out for any possible kernicterus symptoms after birth and the first few days following birth. If they notice any elevated levels or symptoms, they should treat the jaundice immediately so it doesn’t become severe. When treated early enough, brain damage from jaundice can likely be avoided. 

Delaying treatment or not picking up on possible kernicterus symptoms has a high and devastating cost. It can result in permanent neurological damage for a child. Babies who suffer from kernicterus are also vulnerable for a range of other conditions including cerebral palsy, encephalopathy, intellectual disabilities, developmental delays, vision problems, and hearing problems. 

In some cases, medical negligence with jaundice can lead to death.

Baby with jaundice complications.

Filing A Claim If Your Child Suffered Brain Damage From Jaundice

Doctors can’t prevent jaundice. Many babies are born with it or develop jaundice in the first few days of their life. But what is avoidable is the severe progression of jaundice. Simple monitoring and testing can give doctors an accurate reading of just how much bilirubin is in a baby’s blood. From there, medical providers can choose the best treatment option. Usually, special lights are used to reduce the bilirubin in a baby. In babies with extremely high levels of bilirubin, a blood transfusion may be recommended. 

All that is to say, there are treatments available before jaundice may turn into brain damage. That’s why it’s important to hold doctors accountable for kernicterus and brain damage from jaundice. 

Our Hampton & King lawyers can help you file a claim and receive compensation. Get in touch today to explore your options.