Brain damage as a result of lack of treatment
Most babies are born into an acceptable state of health with flushed cheeks and a strong cry. Unfortunately, this is not the case for all children. Some are born with a condition called bilirubin encephalopathy, a form of jaundice that ultimately results in brain damage. Also known as kernicterus, this condition usually presents itself as a discoloration of the skin, most often yellow or orange. BE is a rather rare condition, while regular jaundice is fairly common, and has a number of causes. One of them, sadly, is malpractice.
The legal team at Tyrone Law Firm, PC has dedicated themselves to representing families with children who have sustained serious birth injuries. BE in its most severe form can lead to a fatality, or serious, lifelong consequences. No family should have to deal with this alone.
What is Bilirubin Encephalopathy?
In order to properly address this condition, we first have to break down what its name means. BE describes a type of jaundice-high levels of bilirubin that may cause the skin to appear yellow as the infant's body attempts to remove extra red blood cells. It is caused by an immature liver, underlying disease, and most often rH incompatibility with the mother. Mother and child may not have blood types that are compatible, making filtering blood difficult.
Jaundice is a fairly common condition in babies that can be helped by light therapy, or go away on its own in a matter of days. However, BE brings complications. The bilirubin can spread to the brain, damaging it permanently. Here are some basic terms to know when addressing it.
- Bilirubin - Found in the bile, bilirubin is naturally occurring and breaks down red blood cells from the liver.
- Kenicterus - Permanent brain damage inflicted on an infant due to BE. The brain upon autopsy is often stained yellow.
- Jaundice - A baby's bilirubin levels can fluctuate, and some may be naturally higher than others. Jaundice, however, occurs when these rise (and stay) above normal.
When bilirubin levels are severely elevated, they can compromise the immune system. Levels of severity, especially if left untreated, result in the neurological condition bilirubin encephalopathy.
What are the stages of BE?
There are stages of BE, all of which have differing levels of severity, different symptoms and possible damage that they can inflict on a newborn.
- Stage 1: Lethargy and a fever accompanying jaundice
- Stage 2: An arched back (hypertonia), excessive crying, failure to latch or feed properly
- Stage 3: Seizures, hypertonia, high pitched wailing, even coma
As BE advances, so does its chance of resulting in fatality. Treatments exist for jaundice, such as light therapy and a transfusion if needed. They can halt the advance of the disease, but if it is left untreated or undetected by a physician, it can be deadly.
In Georgia, there's a birth injury lawyer you can count on. The Tyrone Law Firm, PC has extensive experience representing families affected by conditions like BE. Contact us for a free case evaluation today, and don't let the consequences of a doctor who has overlooked a potentially fatal condition dictate your life. Contact us; we can help.