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Jaundice at Birth – A Cause for Concern?

Jaundice at Birth – A Cause for Concern?

Jaundice at Birth

My Child Was Born With Jaundice. Do I Have Cause for a Lawsuit?

Newborn babies have immature organs which take time to mature and work as they should. Because of this, the days, weeks and months after a baby’s birth are crucial when it comes to fixing a health issue. Jaundice, which is commonly seen as the yellowing of a person’s eyes, skin and nails can strike at any time and can cause widespread damage to a baby’s body and organs if not immediately treated, and can even lead to the development of cerebral palsy.

Jaundice usually occurs when red blood cells in a baby’s body break down and aren’t metabolized fast enough by the liver. These cell’s byproducts are then able to travel to other organs such as the brain and skin, causing serious damage.

If your baby was born prematurely, they may develop a birth injury such as jaundice. That said, it can usually be treated within a matter of days, with no lasting health effects. However, there are certain types of births that predispose babies to disproportionately develop jaundice.

Here are a few:

  • If your baby suffered an in-utero infection which wasn’t caught by a prenatal doctor during your pregnancy.
  • If they were born with liver, pancreas or gallbladder abnormalities.
  • If they have a different blood type from the mother.
  • If the delivery process was traumatic, difficult, or took too much time.

The compound responsible for jaundice is called bilirubin. It is normally taken up by major excretory organs and disarmed before it has a chance to wreak havoc in the body. Bilirubin breakdown is known as hyperbilirubinemia, leading to a condition called kernicterus which can lead to permanent brain damage.

Here are a few warning signs which may signal that your child has developed kernicterus:

  • Uncontrolled and jerky movements
  • Hearing loss
  • A gaze that’s permanently affixed upwards
  • Tooth enamel underdevelopment

There are several things doctors can do to mitigate and hopefully reverse jaundice before it goes too far.

  1. The first involves placing a baby under special lights which then go to work in breaking down bilirubin in the body. This should be done immediately because hyperbilirubinemia can take a turn for the worse, resulting in kernicterus (brain damage) within hours.
  2. You can also request that your child get a blood exchange transfusion which can go a long way in helping reduce bilirubin levels in the blood in a timely fashion.

These two treatment options are combined with close monitoring in order to make sure that the baby isn’t getting dehydrated or too hot. On top of that, bilirubin levels are monitored every 4 to 6 hours to see if they are indeed going down or if the baby needs adjunctive treatment.


Doctors are supposed to closely monitor bilirubin levels during birth. In addition, they are supposed to make the right decisions at the right time when a baby is at risk of developing jaundice by properly interpreting lab results so that they can take action as soon as something seems off.

If medical professionals postpone jaundice treatment, don’t examine the baby for signs of acute kernticterus, or otherwise fail to in their duty to prevent unnecessary injury to your child, you may be able to hold them liable for the resulting injuries through a birth injury lawsuit. For more information, call us at 1-800-ATTORNEY for a free consultation.

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