Can Hyperbilirubinemia Be Linked to Birth Injuries?

closeup black and white photo of father holding bright yellow jaundiced baby in both hands

There are few things that cause as much distress as the injury of a helpless newborn. When you are caring for a child with a birth injury, it can devastate your family both financially and emotionally. If your child is suffering from an injury or condition caused by a delayed diagnosis or treatment of hyperbilirubinemia, you may be able to file a claim of medical malpractice against the responsible hospital or pediatrician.

Hyperbilirubinemia can’t be completely prevented, but early detection and treatment are extremely important in order to prevent it from becoming dangerous to an infant. Here’s what you need to know about hyperbilirubinemia and how it can be linked to devastating birth injuries if not treated in time.

What Is Hyperbilirubinemia?

Hyperbilirubinemia is the medical term for what many of us know as jaundice — the yellowish complexion that can often show up after birth in newborns. It is caused by a buildup of a protein in the blood called bilirubin. Most of the time, this buildup is harmless and can resolve on its own without further medical attention.

However, if the presence of the bilirubin increases to a dangerous level, the protein can accumulate in the brain tissue of a newborn, and this could potentially cause brain damage, also known as kernicterus. This condition involves neurological impairment, potentially including cerebral palsy — the inability to control muscle movement of the face, body, arms and legs. It has also been associated with deafness, learning disabilities and other conditions.

Hyperbilirubinemia can begin to show itself days or even hours after the birth. Some common symptoms include:

  • Yellowish skin
  • Whites of the eyes turning yellow
  • Poor feeding
  • Lethargy

Medical Malpractice

As previously mentioned, jaundice is easily treatable if it is diagnosed early enough, and it is rare that it will escalate into a more dangerous or even fatal condition. But if medical providers fail to recognize the warning signs and symptoms in time, or if they neglect to perform the necessary testing and follow-up examinations, the hyperbilirubinemia can escalate.

Failure to treat the hyperbilirubinemia before it progresses into kernicterus can result in lifelong suffering for a newborn, including permanent brain and neurological damage, and even death in some cases. When a medical provider neglects to perform any of the following steps, they may be held responsible for medical malpractice:

  • Examine the newborn for jaundice
  • Conduct a bilirubin test
  • Treat an infant who exhibits dangerous levels of bilirubin

If your child has suffered because of the negligence of a hospital or medical provider, you’re already dealing with an overwhelming amount of emotional trauma. When your priority is solely the health and healing of your baby, you don’t have the time or energy to worry about how to file a claim and begin a complicated legal process. Instead, you need trusted counsel who will fight tirelessly to hold the negligent party responsible so that you can help your child gain an improved quality of life.

The Janet, Janet & Suggs Team

As a nationally recognized birth injury law firm, Janet, Janet & Suggs is here to fight for you and your family when you need it most. Our birth injury attorneys have won hundreds of millions of dollars on behalf of families who have been harmed during the birthing process all over the country — including Baltimore, Chicago, Columbia, NYC, Philadelphia, Minneapolis, Charlotte and Des Moines. Our own Howard Janet broke the record, twice, for the largest birth injury award handed down by a jury in Minnesota.

Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss your case. We’ll help you decide the next steps so that you can focus on your family instead.

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