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Information for New Parents: Kernicterus, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

You may or may not be familiar with a condition known as “Kernicterus”. If you’ve never heard of Kernicterus it’s most likely because the condition is relatively rare. The condition should be rare, and in an ideal world no baby would suffer from Kernicterus as it is 100% preventable.

Kernicterus develops when Jaundice, a common condition among newborns, goes unnoticed. Hospital personnel are trained to spot and treat Jaundice. There’s also a blood test that will gauge of your baby has an excess of bilirubin (the chemical that causes Jaundice).

In some instances, either due to medical negligence or misdiagnosis Jaundice isn’t properly diagnosed or treated. In these instances some babies develop Kernicterus.

What are the symptoms of Kernicterus?

  • Yellow/Orange Skin
  • Sleeplessness or refusal to wake
  • Fussiness, including inconsolable crying
  • Stiff or floppy limbs
  • Erratic eye movements
  • Abnormally few wet and dirty diapers

If your baby is experiencing these symptoms contact a medical professional immediately. Talk to your doctor to see if you should make a doctors appointment or emergency medical help is required. 

How is Kernicterus Diagnosed?

  • A Transcutaneous Bilirubin TcB Test: Your nurse or doctor will use a light meter on the babies head to gauge the level of TcB.

  • A Total Serum Bilirubin TSB test: Your doctor or nurse will take a blood sample from the baby’s heal to determine the TSB.

How is Kernicterus Treated?

Treatment will vary based for each baby. If your child has developed Kernicterus the baby has experienced some form of brain damage. Because each baby is different the extent of the brain damage and treatment options varies.

Most commonly babies who have developed Kernicterus suffer from diminished mental capacities and diminished motor skills. Special education, speech therapy, and physical therapy are common treatment options.

The cost of ongoing treatment is often substantial. If your baby has is suffering from Kernicterus it’s highly likely that medical negligence is at blame. Medical Malpractice attorneys at Jacoby & Meyers have been securing compensation for Medical Malpractice victims for over 40 years. Contact us today to discuss your legal options.

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