Hyperbilirubinemia in newborn babies can develop into kernicterus, which causes irreversible neurological damage.
Did your child suffer from hyperbilirubinemia, bilirubin encephalopathy, jaundice, and/or kernicterus shortly after birth, leading to complications such as brain damage or cerebral palsy? Call our Dallas birth injury attorneys at 1-877-405-4313 for a free consultation into your family’s legal options.
The period between a baby’s gestation and its delivery results in cascade of metabolic changes, leading to things such as red blood cell breakdown which can sometimes result in elevated levels of bilirubin (hyperbilirubinemia). Neonatal hyperbilirubinaemia is a type of birth injury which often results in jaundice, targeting the skin, the whites of the eyes, as well as nails, before morphing into a dangerous condition known as kernicterus.
Because newborns are especially vulnerable to elevated levels of serum bilirubin, these levels must be carefully monitored by medical professionals. When they fail in this responsibility, they open themselves up to a medical malpractice lawsuit.
What is kernicterus?
Kernicterus occurs when bilirubin invades sensitive brain tissue, starting with the brain stem before moving to other areas such as the cerebral cortex. In a young child’s brain, bilirubin can accumulate in the gray matter of the central nervous system, which has the potential to cause irreversible brain damage, cerebral palsy, and can even lead to wrongful death.
Kernicterus is generally classified as either acute bilirubin encephalopathy (ABE), chronic bilirubin encephalopathy (CBE), or subtle bilirubin encephalopathy (SBE).
Kernicterus is considered a “never event.”
Kernicterus is considered by medical professionals a “never event.” That is to say, it is never supposed to occur in newborn babies when standard medical care is available. Failure to prevent kernicterus is often considered medical malpractice, and thus the family has the right to seek financial compensation from the hospital and/or doctor responsible.
How does hyperbilirubinemia and kernicterus occur?
Bilirubin is easily measured using a blood test or checking and comparing the baby’s and mother’s blood cell count in order to see if there are any discrepancies that may be a cause for concern. Hyperbilirubinemia (and kernicterus) may occur due to a failure to accurately monitor bilirubin levels during delivery, misinterpreting bilirubin levels from the lab, ignoring critical lab readings and choosing not to start bilirubin elimination therapy, or a simple lack of proper polices to help measure bilirubin blood levels.
Warning signs signaling the development of kernicterus.
- Movement problems as well as muscle tone issues (flaccid or rigid muscle tone as well as jerky movements)
- An upward gaze
- Stiffening of the spine leading to unnatural curvature
- Abnormal staining of a baby’s tooth enamel
- Poor sucking or feeding
- Lack of a startle reflex
As a parent, it is your right to speak up and ask questions if you suspect your baby’s kernicterus was caused by medical malpractice. Because brain damage can completely change the trajectory of your child’s life, you should do everything in your power to help your child, including seeking monetary compensation from those responsible to pay for future treatment, rehabilitation, and assistive devices. If your child’s injuries were caused by medical malpractice, why should your family be forced to suffer financially?
Speak With a Dallas Birth Injury Attorney For Free
The attorneys at Rasansky Law Firm are happy to speak to you about your potential case free of charge. If we can help with your claim, we’ll do so for no out-of-pocket cost to you. Call us 24/7 at (214) 651-6100, or toll-free at 1-877-405-4313.