Skilled Kernicterus Attorneys in St. Louis, Missouri
At The Gogel Law Firm, our St. Louis birth injury attorneys know when babies suffer preventable harm because a physician failed to identify, treat, and monitor certain medical conditions, the infant and parents’ lives are changed forever.
One such rare preventable form of brain damage is called Kernicterus, which can happen in newborns with jaundice.
Jaundice is a common ailment that affects 60%-80% of infants in the U.S., which results in the yellow coloring of the skin and other tissues due to a build up too much of a chemical called bilirubin in their blood.
Typically, jaundice will resolve on its own. However, when it does not, and the condition goes untreated, the bilirubin level stays too high and becomes kernicterus, which causes brain damage called bilirubin-induced neurologic dysfunction, or BIND.
How Can Parents Identify Jaundice and Seek Treatment to Avoid BIND?
Jaundice usually develops in the face first, causing a yellowing of the skin as the bilirubin level gets higher. The discoloration may move to the rest of the body, including the whites of the baby’s eyes.
The most common symptoms of jaundice may include, but are not limited to:
- Changes in skin color, causing a yellow or orange tint.
- Difficulty waking up or trouble sleeping at all.
- Extreme fussiness.
- Fewer than average wet or dirty diapers.
- Problems feeding, either from the breast or bottle.
Most cases of jaundice do not require treatment but should be reported to your physician to avoid further complications that can lead to kernicterus.
What are the Most Common Symptoms of Kernicterus?
When jaundice progresses to kernicterus, the baby’s overall health may be in jeopardy.
Symptoms of kernicterus may include, but are not limited to:
- Drowsiness or lack of energy.
- Limpness or stiffness of the whole body.
- Muscle spasms or reduced muscle tone.
- Trouble feeding.
- Uncontrollable or very high-pitched/shrill crying.
- Unusual eye movements.
As the child continues to develop, additional signs of kernicterus may include:
- Hearing and other sensory problems.
- Inability to gaze upward.
- Muscle spasms and/or writhing.
- Seizures or convulsions.
- Stained tooth enamel.
- Unusual motor development and movement.
The most accurate way to measure bilirubin levels is for a physician to evaluate the newborn with a light meter before the mother and baby are released from their care. If the result is too high, additional tests may be needed to further evaluate the baby’s condition.
If your doctor failed to identify the signs of jaundice or delayed treatment options, which led to kernicterus, contact our St. Louis medical malpractice lawyer today to review your case by calling (314) 370-8173 or online to schedule a free consultation.