Babies with Risk Factors May Require Monitoring for Kernicterus

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Philadelphia medical malpractice attorneys inform parents that many babies born have or may develop jaundice, the yellow color seen in the skin of many newborns as a result of high amounts of bilirubin in the baby’s blood. However, severe jaundice or jaundice that goes untreated can lead to a condition known as kernicterus affecting a child’s brain, hearing, vision and teeth. In severe cases, untreated kernicterus can lead to brain damage and/or death.

While any baby could develop jaundice, certain babies are more likely to have severe jaundice and higher bilirubin levels than others. Therefore, parents should pay close attention to their child especially if they have any of the following risk factors. Early detection and treatment of jaundice is important in managing the disease to help prevent the development of kernicterus.

Medical Malpractice Attorneys Discuss the Risk Factors Associated With Jaundice

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some groups of babies are more at risk than others to develop jaundice. Parents are advised to watch children with risk factors more closely and immediately seek treatment to determine if the child could be suffering from jaundice.

Preterm Babies

Babies who are born before 37 weeks (8.5 months of pregnancy) may have a liver that is not fully developed. This could cause jaundice because their young liver may not be able to get rid of so much bilirubin.

Babies with Darker Skin Color

In babies with darker skin color, jaundice could be missed or go unrecognized. Another way to detect jaundice is to check the gums and inner lips. A bilirubin test should be performed whrn in doubt.

East Asian or Mediterranean Descent

Babies who are of East Asian or Mediterranean descent are also a high risk of becoming jaundiced. Families who inherit conditions (such as G6PDdeficiency), and their babies are more likely to get jaundice.

Feeding Difficulties

Babies who are not eating, wetting or stooling well during their first few days of life have a higher risk of jaundice.

Sibling with Jaundice

If a sibling of the child had jaundice, the baby is more likely to develop jaundice.


A baby born with bruises is more likely to get jaundice. Bruises form after blood leaks out of a blood vessel causing the skin to look black and blue. As the bruise heals, bilirubin levels are high and could cause jaundice.

Blood Type

Generally, women with an O blood type or Rh negative blood factor give birth to babies with higher bilirubin levels. Mothers with Rh incompatibility should be given Rhogam.

Early diagnosis and treatment of jaundice or conditions that may result in jaundice are important in preventing kernicterus. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants with early signs of jaundice have their bilirubin level measured within 24 hours of birth. Infants with high bilirubin levels should undergo additional testing and have a follow-up visit with their pediatrician within 2 to 3 days after they leave the hospital.

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.


Call the Philadelphia personal injury lawyers of Messa & Associates today to discuss your case with a professional who has the knowledge to answer your questions or submit a free online inquiry.

Call, toll-free, 1-877-MessaLaw (637-7252), or submit a free online inquiry form.

About the Author:

Director of Marketing for Messa & Associates located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. For all marketing or press release communications, contact

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