Kernicterus, considered a rare and preventable neurological disorder, often happens in newborns born with jaundice, or a buildup of bilirubin. Bilirubin is a yellowish substance in the blood that results from the breakdown of red blood cells. As the bilirubin reaches high levels, it can cause brain damage to the child. People commonly and mistakenly believe that jaundice cannot hurt anyone. However, it can lead to a major medical complication if you do no treat and diagnose jaundice. It would be best to understand the risks of kernicterus and the dangers it might cause to your newborn infant.
What are the Symptoms?
The symptoms will vary based on what stage of development this medical condition is in. For example, in the earlier stages, some of the signs include:
- Poor feeding habits
- Fatigue and lethargy
- Yellow or orange skin color
- The baby is fussy
- Few wet or dirty diapers
As this birth disorder continues to develop, you might see other symptoms like:
- High-pitched crying
- Bulging from the soft spot of the infant
In its most dangerous stage, some of the potential symptoms include:
- Higher frequency of seizures
- Stiffness in the muscles and movement issues
- Loss of hearing
- Body arching
Because of how it can cause brain damage, this condition also can cause a neurological condition known as cerebral palsy. In particular, it can cause the type known as athetoid cerebral palsy. You could characterize this type as primarily being a type of CP that has abnormal and involuntary movements.
What are the Greatest Dangers
Especially within the first 24 hours, you need to keep a close eye on jaundice because of how it can develop into a more serious condition. It can lead to a couple of different disorders like:
- Cognitive disability
- Vision problems
- Hearing problems
- Loss of teeth
How Does This Classify as a Birth Injury?
This classifies as a birth injury if the doctor fails to diagnose and treat jaundice, and it develops further into kernicterus. You have to continue watching the indicators of high bilirubin levels because it can progress to damaging the brain, which can last a lifetime. While doctors cannot cause this condition, they have a responsibility to the patient to treat this condition before it has the opportunity to escalate into something more dangerous.
Normally, babies will have the highest level of bilirubin at three to five days old. Bilirubin is an orange-yellow pigment that comes from as your red blood cells start to break down. An infant that has jaundice should be checked every eight to 12 hours. Also, they should be rechecked on the fifth day as a way of keeping this under control. When a doctor doesn’t treat or monitor this condition correctly, it can lead to serious brain damage. You have to respond to this in the right way.