Left Untreated, Severe Jaundice Can Be Very Harmful to Newborns

Hyberbilirubinemia, commonly called jaundice, is a condition that occurs when there is too much Bilirubin in the blood. It is not uncommon in newborns. Typically, it will cause no lasting harm to a child. However, it can in rare situations be very harmful to a newborn.

Jaundice causes a newborn‘s skin and the whites of their eyes to look yellow. As mentioned, Jaundice is usually not a serious problem, but in some cases too much Bilirubin in the blood can cause cerebral palsy, brain damage, hearing loss, mental disability and behavior problems among other injuries.

Bilirubin is made when your body breaks down old red blood cells. Normally Bilirubin is removed from the body through the urine and stool. When you are pregnant your body removes Bilirubin from your baby through the placenta. However, after birth the baby‘s body must get rid of the Bilirubin on its own. Jaundice occurs when your baby‘s body has more Bilirubin than it can get rid of.

Your baby‘s doctor can diagnose jaundice by doing a physical exam and getting a complete medical history about your baby. The medical history will include such things as whether your baby was born full-term, your baby‘s eating and elimination habits, and whether your baby has gained or lost weight since birth. Tests may be done if your doctor thinks that a health problem is causing too much Bilirubin in your baby‘s blood. A blood test for Bilirubin may also be necessary to determine if your baby needs treatment.

In most cases, no treatment is needed for jaundice and it will usually go away on its own. However, more serious cases must be treated medically in a timely manner. Left untreated in these cases, jaundice can cause very serious harm to a baby. As such, it is extremely important to immediately report any symptoms to your medical providers.

When jaundice is left untreated, it can lead to a specific kind of brain damage known as Kernicterus. Kernicterus can lead to permanent conditions like cerebral palsy, which is a chronic and permanent condition that affects a child‘s development and motor skills. A child with irreversible brain damage or cerebral palsy faces a lifetime of physical challenges.

It is very important that your baby‘s doctor monitor your baby for signs and symptoms of jaundice. If your doctor fails to recognize the symptoms of jaundice and/or fails to provide proper treatment, your baby could suffer serious and irreparable injuries. If your baby is harmed as a result of a failure to diagnose and treat jaundice, you may have a claim against the doctor, medical provider, or facility for medical malpractice.

Birth injury cases are complicated and difficult to pursue. In most cases, there will not be a sufficient level of negligence to merit a medical malpractice claim. Because these cases are so difficult and often expensive to pursue, it is important to thoroughly evaluate the claim as soon as possible. This is particularly so in light of the unique deadlines associated with medical malpractice claims in New Mexico.

As such, you should contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible.to fully protect your rights and the rights of your baby. Delay could in some cases be very harmful to your claims and as a general rule is never a advisable.


Collins & Collins, P.C.
Albuquerque Attorneys

Share your thoughts