Recognize the Signs of Kernicterus
Kernicterus is caused by very high levels of bilirubin (hyperbilirubinemia), which is a yellow pigment that is created in the body as part of the recycling of old blood cells. When the bilirubin levels become too high, the skin can look yellow, or jaundiced. Many newborns, by some estimates at least 60 percent, exhibit some degree of jaundice in the days after birth. There are standard tests and accepted treatments for jaundice that are highly effective in lowering bilirubin levels.
Our law firm handles kernicterus cases nationally, using our many years of experience and in-depth understanding of the complex legal issues involved to build compelling arguments. Equally important, our attorneys focus our cases on the details of our clients' situations, taking the time to learn about their concerns, issues and goals. Each case is tailored to the specifics of the client's situation. We believe that this approach is the right way to treat clients and the best way to develop winning cases.
Symptoms of Kernicterus
When bilirubin in the blood remains at an excessively high level, it can migrate into brain tissue, causing brain damage. Some of the symptoms of the disorder are outlined below:
- Yellow eyes and skin
- Failure to show a startle reflex
- Failure to suck or feed
- High-pitched cry
- Arched back or neck
- Bulging soft spot
Children who are not treated at an early stage of the process of hyperbilirubinemia will develop cerebral palsy, hearing loss, muscle rigidity, speech difficulties, movement disorders and developmental delays. Sadly, some babies who reach the late stage of the condition without treatment may die.
A simple blood test, a heel stick, can diagnose excessive jaundice quickly so that treatment can begin. The accepted standard is to perform this test in infants with even minor signs of jaundice within 24 hours. Additionally, it is important to schedule follow-up visits for two to three days after discharge from the hospital, especially if the baby was premature or not quite full-term.
Todd & Weld LLP is a Boston law firm with a nationwide focus on helping families when their children have kernicterus as a result of excessive jaundice and high bilirubin. We invite you to call us to learn how we can help or visit our Resources page for more information about this preventable condition.
To learn how Todd & Weld LLP can advocate for you in a kernicterus case, contact our lead kernicterus practice area partner, attorney Jeffrey N. Catalano, at 617-391-0591.