Kara Smalls was delivered by way of a Cesarean section surgery at Ouachita County Medical Center. Two hours after her birth, Kara’s bilirubin level was 5.5, which is an indication of high risk of hyperbilirubinemia.
Hyperbilirubinemia is a condition in a newborn in which there is too much bilirubin in the blood. When red blood cells break down, a substance known as bilirubin is formed. Babies are not easily able to rid themselves of bilirubin, and it can build up in the blood and other tissues of a baby’s body. The symptoms of hyperbilirubinemia are jaundice, which includes yellow tinged skin and the whites of the eyes, normally starting at the head and spreading down the body. The baby can also run a fever or be fatigued. Other symptoms include weight loss, vomiting and paler than usual stools. Jaundice in a newborn is fairly common, particularly in babies born before 38 weeks gestation or preterm babies.Infant jaundice occurs most times because the baby’s liver isn’t mature enough to rid itself of bilirubin in the bloodstream.
In this case, over the next two days, nurses noted that Kara was mildly jaundiced. Nevertheless, the family physician, Dr. Jonathan Lewis, discharged the baby instructing her mother that everything was normal and that she should follow up with him in ten days.