High Levels of Bilirubin in Newborns

Hyperbilirubinemia is a dangerous condition of high levels of bilirubin, which is a byproduct release by the body’s red blood cells during normal processing. However, when the amount of bilirubin, often called hematoidin is elevated, it can result in jaundice or the yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes. When high levels of bilirubin occur during pregnancy, it could be a sign of liver damage or preeclampsia. High levels of bilirubin can also strike the newborn child. Neonatal jaundice is a sign that if not quickly treated can result in other more dangerous problems, including cerebral palsy, neurological disorders and wrongful death of the child.

Both premature babies and babies born full term can have jaundice or yellowing of the skin and eyes at birth. This happens because red blood cells in the child’s body break down and bilirubin, a product of that red cell breakdown runs through the child’s body.

In most newborns, jaundice is normal. All babies are born where a rapid red blood cell breakdown occurs right after birth. However, in some newborns, this condition of jaundice can be severe. Treatment in the severe cases is needed immediately or serious adverse health risks can occur to the child.

Too much bilirubin in the blood system can cause a type of brain damage called kernicterus. Kernicterus is usually found in premature birth children or very ill newborns that have high levels of bilirubin. The condition is rare in full term healthy infants, even though the child may have been born with jaundice.

In full term babies the liver, bladder and intestines work together to break down bilirubin and pass it out of the child’s body without any consequences. But in prematurely born infants, that coordinated organ mechanism does not work as well because of the immaturity of those systems. Premature babies have a much harder time metabolizing bilirubin. With the development of low bilirubin levels, a newborn can be at risk for kernicterus, permanent hearing loss or body movement problems.

Normal bilirubin, those old red blood cells, first travels to the liver. Once in the liver, bilirubin goes to the bile duct and is stored in the gall bladder. If the organs of the newborn are all working well together, the bilirubin is then released to the small intestine as bile to help dissolve fats and is then excreted out of the body.

Bile attaches to the sugar in the blood, which is usually referred to as conjugated bilirubin. Bilirubin without sugar is known as indirect bilirubin. All of the bilirubin together is called total bilirubin. A newborn’s blood test will determine accurately what the levels of bilirubin are in all three levels.

High levels of bilirubin or hyperbilirubinemia is detected by visualizing the newborn that is yellow in color or just has signs and symptoms of jaundice. It is not that uncommon to occur to a newborn infant. In most cases where the high levels of bilirubin are diagnosed and treated, the child will completely recover. However, if your child has suffered a serious injury because a doctor, nurse midwife or other medical provider has chosen not to recognize and treat jaundice in your newborn, you may be entitled to compensation for his or hers injuries. Those injuries could have easily been predicted, prevented and avoided had there been no medical negligence.

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling elevated bilirubin newborn 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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