Information on Kernicterus

Birth Injury Attorney in West Virginia

Jaundice is a very normal condition experienced by newborns. It is known by the yellow tint it gives to the skin and the eyes. In extreme cases of jaundice, it can result in a permanent brain damage known as kernicterus. What causes jaundice in the first place? When red blood cells die, the liver is responsible for getting rid of them. The process of removing the dead cells creates bilirubin as a byproduct. Bilirubin is then broken down by the body and removed in the stool. When bilirubin is not broken down and removed from the body fast enough, it can result in jaundice. In some cases, there are too many red blood cells dying and the liver cannot keep up with the amount. In other cases, the liver itself is the problem and is not functioning as it should.

The last possible reason for jaundice is that when the bilirubin leaves the liver, it is not able to get through the digestive system properly and therefore is not removed from the body. There are several warning signs that a child is suffering from jaundice. First of all, as mentioned before, their skin and eyes will begin to look yellow. The inside of their mouth may also look yellow. Their urine will be too dark and their stool will be too pale. If a baby is going to develop jaundice, they will usually develop it within two to four days after birth. It usually goes away on its own after a couple weeks, but it can turn into something worse.

What is kernicterus?

How do you know if your child's case of jaundice has worsened into the very dangerous condition of kernicterus? When an infant has a very high level of bilirubin in their blood, there is the potential that the bilirubin will spread into the brain. Should this happen, it could cause serious brain damage. Although slightly raised levels of bilirubin in the blood are normal in newborns, such extreme levels that would lead to kernicterus are not. If the jaundice is not treated correctly, it may continue to get worse. Some babies could suffer from certain health complications which increase their chances of developing this condition.

What are the symptoms of kernicterus? A baby who has developed kernicterus will most likely display signs of extreme tiredness. Although infants sleep a vast majority of the time, these babies will have difficulties staying awake or will not wake up. Babies with kernicterus will also have an abnormal high-pitched cry. The infant's muscles may also be affected in that they are flexed too much sometimes and then too weak at other times. Most babies will also have a fever. A blood test can determine whether the child's bilirubin levels are too high, but once a child has developed kernicterus, the damage is already done.

Talk to a West Virginia birth injury lawyer today!

Jaundice needs to be caught and treated before it can develop into kernicterus. It is the responsibility of the doctors and nurses to monitor infants' bilirubin levels after birth. There are several different ways a doctor could work to lower bilirubin levels. If they fail in any of these regards, they could be guilty of medical malpractice. If you notice any of the possible symptoms of jaundice, tell your doctor as soon as possible. Our West Virginia birth injury attorneys are dedicated to protecting your rights and best interests. We have over 35 years of combined experience on our side and will do everything in our power to get you the compensation you deserve.

Please, do not wait to contact our West Virginia birth injury lawyers if you believe that your child was the victim of medical malpractice.


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