Jaundice is a common condition in newborns where the baby’s skin and the white part of their eyes appear yellow. For some babies, Jaundice will go away on its own; but for other babies, treatment is necessary and without treatment there could be serious health consequences.
Jaundice is caused by a surplus of Bilirubin in the blood. Bilirubin is waste created by fetal red blood cells breaking down after birth. Bilirubin is usually filtered out by the liver but because newborns have a greater amount of red blood cells and their livers are not yet fully developed, the excess Bilirubin is not filtered out and this leads to Jaundice.
Jaundice is commonly treated with phototherapy, which is a treatment where the newborn is placed under a light. This helps the newborn body process the excess Bilirubin. If phototherapy does not work in treating the infant’s Jaundice, an exchange transfusion may be needed.
Severe Jaundice that is left untreated can potentially damage to the baby’s brain. Severe untreated Jaundice may lead to a condition called Kernicterus which is a bilirubin-induced brain dysfunction. Kernicterus can lead to a loss of hearing, damage to the newborn’s vision, and lasting brain damage such as Cerebral Palsy, which is a brain disorder that causes abnormalities in movement, or Epilepsy, which is a Seizure Disorder.
Today, because Jaundice is easily detected and treated, untreated Jaundice and especially Kernicterus should not happen and is unacceptable.
If you have any questions regarding a potential medical malpractice claim related to a failure to diagnose or treat Jaundice and or Kernicterus, contact Bonner Law at 305-676-8800 for a free consultation. We have over 30 years of experience representing patients and healthcare providers in medical malpractice litigation.