Untreated Jaundice Can Result in Condition Called Kernicterus

By Joe Messa

Mar 20
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Philadelphia medical malpractice attorneys warn parents about jaundice and its effects when left untreated. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, jaundice is the yellow color seen in the skin of many newborns. Jaundice occurs when there is a high amount of bilirubin in the baby’s blood. After a baby is born, their liver must remove the bilirubin from their blood. In cases where the child’s liver is unable to do this, the bilirubin builds up in the baby’s body causing the skin and whites of the eyes to look yellow. The yellow coloring is referred to as jaundice.

Failure to diagnose and treat severe jaundice can result in kernicterus, a rare and serious neurological condition associated with brain damage. Kernicterus can also lead to athetoid cerebral palsy and hearing loss as well as problems with vision and teeth. In severe cases, untreated kernicterus can lead to death.

Medical Malpractice Attorneys Point Out The Signs and Symptoms to Look for in Determining Whether a Baby Might be Suffering from Kernicterus

Depending on the stage of kernicterus, the child may have symptoms that will help parents identify if their baby has developed kernicterus.

In the early stages of kernicterus, the child may suffer from extreme jaundice, absent startle reflex, poor feeding or sucking abilities, or extreme tiredness. During the middle stages of kernicterus, parents may notice their baby has a high-pitched cry, an arched back with his or her neck hyperextended backwards, a bulging fontanel (soft spot). The child may also begin to suffer from seizures. During the late stage, when the kernicterus is has become a full neurological syndrome, the child may experience high-frequency hearing loss, intellectual disability, muscle rigidity, or difficulties with speech difficulties. Seizures and movement disorder are also typically seen at this stage.

Early diagnosis and treatment of jaundice or conditions that lead to jaundice are essential to preventing kernicterus. According to The American Academy of Pediatrics, infants with early signs of jaundice should have their bilirubin level measured within 24 hours. If the level is high, the infant should undergo further testing and have a follow-up visit with their pediatrician within 2 to 3 days after leaving the hospital. Parents whose child is exhibiting signs of kernicterus should take their baby to see a doctor right away and request a jaundice bilirubin test.

Medical Malpractice Attorneys in Philadelphia and New Jersey

The Philadelphia medical malpractice attorneys at Messa & Associates are experienced at handling medical malpractice cases resulting in birth injuries. Our extremely skilled team of medical malpractice attorneys and medical experts is dedicated to ensuring you receive proper compensation for your personal injuries. If you child has suffered from or a loved one has suffered a birth injury such as kernicterus as a result of a failure to diagnose and treat severe jaundice or any other type of birth injury, contact the medical malpractice attorneys of Messa & Associates for a free consultation. Call toll free at 1-877-MessaLaw, or submit a free online inquiry.


About the Author

Joseph L. Messa, Jr. is the founding partner of Messa & Associates, P.C. He is an AV-rated attorney (highest rating available), listed in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers. Read More