Jaundice Hyperbilirubinemia

Jaundice HyperbilirubinemiaJaundice Hyperbilirubinemia

Neonatal Jaundice

Many babies are born with jaundice that results from an elevated bilirubin level in their bodies. Jaundice is easily diagnosed and highly treatable if signs are observed immediately. It is critical that doctors detect signs of jaundice in newborns to prevent the condition from escalating to bilirubin-induced brain damage called kernicterus. Additionally, neonatal jaundice can lead to other problems, including cerebral palsy, neurological disorders, and even death.

What You Should Know About Elevated Bilirubin

Elevated bilirubin causes yellowing of the skin and the white parts of the eyes due to its pigment, which is called jaundice. Bilirubin is a by-product of red blood cells being broken down in the body. During pregnancy, the placenta removes bilirubin. When the baby is born, the baby’s liver must take over this function. Many infants are not yet able to get rid of the bilirubin, and so it often builds up in the baby’s blood. This condition is called hyperbilirubinemia. The most common symptoms of hyperbilirubinemia are:

  • lethargy, tiredness
  • poor feeding
  • jaundice, yellowing of the baby’s skin

There are several laboratory tests that can be performed to confirm hyperbilirubinemia. If jaundice appears within the first 24 hours of the baby’s birth, it is serious and should be treated immediately. If jaundice becomes apparent 48-72 hours after the birth, it is called physiological jaundice, which is common and less serious.

How Hyperbilirubinemia is Treated

Treatment depends on various factors, including the cause of hyperbilirubinemia and the level of bilirubin, and includes:

  • Exchange transfusion is used to replace the blood that has a high bilirubin level with fresh blood that has a normal bilirubin level.
  • Because bilirubin absorbs light, jaundice and increased bilirubin levels tend to decrease when the baby is exposed to special blue lights. Phototherapy, which may take several hours to begin working, can be used throughout the day and night.
  • A fiberoptic blanket can be placed under the baby, and can be used alone or in a combination with phototherapy.
  • Baby is given adequate hydration with breastfeeding or pumped breast milk.

When Hyperbilirubinemia Escalates to Kernicterus

Hyperbilirubinemia must be treated immediately to prevent it from escalating into kernicterus. Kernicterus is a type of brain damage that occurs from a high level of bilirubin in baby’s blood. The condition is rare in full-term healthy infants, even if the baby was born with jaundice. If your child has been diagnosed with kernicterus, you should immediately consult with an attorney who handles birth injuries to determine whether or not the medical staff was negligent. Hyperbilirubinemia, if timely diagnosed, should not result in kernicterus or brain damage.

How Thurswell Can Help

If your newborn has been diagnosed with a condition such as cerebral palsy, seizures, or mental retardation as a result of kernicterus, you may be entitled to compensation due to medical malpractice. Thurswell offers free consultations for birth injury cases. Call Thurswell today at 248-354-2222 to discuss your family’s case. We will not charge an attorney fee unless your case is won and you collect money!

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