Chicago Hyperbilirubinemia & Kernicterus Attorney
Prior to childbirth, the mother’s liver serves an important purpose of removing a chemical called bilirubin in the baby. Yet after the baby is born, the baby’s liver must take over the role of removing this chemical that can build up in a baby’s body. The early signs of a build up or excess of bilirubin is jaundice, and if jaundice goes untreated, it can result in serious brain damage. While the terms hyperbilirubinemia and kernicterus can be difficult to understand or to pronounce, the key thing for new parents to know is that these are dangerous conditions that require appropriate diagnosis and treatment from a healthcare provider.
If your healthcare provider fails to properly identify warning signs of hyperbilirubinemia after childbirth, and if your baby develops jaundice that goes untreated, the condition known as kernicterus may occur, and your baby may suffer life-long disabilities as a result. An experienced Chicago hyperbilirubinemia and kernicterus injury attorney at our firm can evaluate your case for you today and can help you to file a claim for financial compensation.
Getting the Facts About Hyperbilirubinemia and Kernicterus
What is hyperbilirubinemia, what is kernicterus, and how are these terms related to one another? According to the National Organization for Rare Disorders, “kernicterus is a rare neurological disorder characterized by excessive levels of bilirubin in the blood (hyperbilirubinemia) during infancy.” To be clear, hyperbilirubinemia refers to the excessive buildup of bilirubin in a baby’s blood after childbirth, which can result in a wide variety of health problems. In some cases, hyperbilirubinemia can lead to kernicterus, which the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines as “a type of brain damage that can result from high levels of bilirubin in a baby’s blood” that “can cause athetoid cerebral palsy and hearing loss.”
Hyperbilirubinemia does not always result in kernicterus, according to the CDC. Rather, hyperbilirubinemia often first causes jaundice, and when jaundice goes untreated, it can lead to kernicterus. The National Organization for Rare Disorders explains that hyperbilirubinemia can result in any of the following in a newborn:
- Difficulty feeding;
- Absence of reflexes;
- Muscle spasms that can range from mild to severe;
- Involuntary muscle movements, or spasticity; and
- Complications that can be life threatening.
Identifying Hyperbilirubinemia and Kernicterus
Your baby’s healthcare provider should recognize signs and symptoms of hyperbilirubinemia that ultimately can result in kernicterus. According to the CDC, signs of jaundice often indicate hyperbilirubinemia and should be treated as quickly as possible. Those signs and symptoms may include and of the following in a newborn:
- Yellow or orange skin, and a change in skin color that usually begins at the head and spreads to the toes;
- Difficulty waking up or sleeping;
- Problems with breastfeeding;
- Extreme fussiness; and
- Fewer dirty diapers than is normal for the baby’s age.
Indications of kernicterus need to be treated extremely seriously. These symptoms usually appear within two to five days following the baby’s birth. The CDC cites the following as symptoms that require emergency medical assistance:
- Inconsolable and high-pitched crying;
- Body “arched like a bow”;
- Stiff body, or oppositely, a limp or floppy body; and
- Strange eye movements.
Contact a Birth Injury Lawyer in Chicago
Do you need help filing a claim for hyperbilirubinemia and kernicterus? Our Chicago birth injury attorneys can help. Contact Wais, Vogelstein, Forman, Koch & Norman, LLC today.