High Bilirubin Level in Newborns

Jaundice or elevated bilirubin can be caused by prematurity. In addition, high levels of bilirubin may be caused if the newborn and mother had incompatible blood types. The result of high bilirubin levels or excessive jaundice or yellowing of a baby’s eyes and skin can lead to kernicterus, which is the result of very high levels of bilirubin that causes a severe form of brain damage. Kernicterus affects the brain’s basal ganglia. The condition can cause lesions in the brainstem that affects eye movement, balance, coordination and hearing. The effects of kernicterus damage can be seen by MRI.

Babies born in the United States with jaundice is not all that uncommon. As many as 60% of all newborns are jaundiced or have a yellow tinge to their skin. Jaundice can be identified by the color of the white part of a child’s eyes. They eyes make look yellowish. Most cases of jaundice occur in the very first days of a baby’s life.

As a matter of fact, jaundice by itself is usually not life threatening or dangerous to a newborn unless the doctors allow the bilirubin level to remain high without recognition of it and treatment. Newborns who have suffered brain damage from the high levels of bilirubin appear to be lethargic, with decreased muscle tones and episodes of increased tone, poor feeding and back arching.

When the first signs of kernicterus or brain damage occur in a baby, the immediate and required treatment is phototherapy or lights, hydration and transfusions to prevent further damage to the brain.

Sadly a newborn who has been diagnosed with kernicterus and treated may still be left with permanent deficiencies, including hearing loss or deafness, abnormal eye movements, or abnormal staining of the teeth enamel. Cerebral palsy can also be the result of kernicterus. Although high bilirubin levels are treatable in newborns, too often the delay in not quickly and correctly diagnosing and treating kernicterus can lead to permanent brain damage and cerebral palsy in a newborn.

If you or someone you know or love has been diagnosed with high bilirubin levels in Illinois, please call us for an immediate free consultation. Robert Kreisman of Kreisman Law Offices has been handling Chicago and Illinois birth injury cases for more than 40 years.

With our years of experience in trying and settling birth injury cases, Kreisman Law Offices provides the best possible services to our clients and have achieved unsurpassed results. Our service is unmatched. Please call us 24 hours a day at 312.346.0045 or toll free 800.583.8002 for a free and immediate consultation, or complete a contact form online. There is no charge for a consultation that will include an evaluation of your case.

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