Around 60% of newborns will develop jaundice within the first few days of birth. As red blood cells break down, they produce a yellow substance called bilirubin. Jaundice occurs when high levels of bilirubin build up because the baby’s liver is unable to break down and remove the amounts of bilirubin being produced. A baby who has jaundice will have a yellow pigment to his or her skin and to the whites of his or her eyes. Jaundice is very common, and most cases resolve on their own within two to three weeks. More severe cases of jaundice may require treatment.
What Type of Treatment Is Available?
Phototherapy is a type of treatment that uses special lights to help the baby’s body change the composition of bilirubin into a form that the body can excrete. During phototherapy, the baby is placed on a bed wearing a diaper and eye protection, and the lights shine down on the baby.
If phototherapy is not effective, the jaundice may be treated with an exchange transfusion. In an exchange transfusion, small amounts of the baby’s blood are replaced with healthy blood.
What Happens if Jaundice Is Left Untreated?
If left untreated, jaundice can cause serious health conditions. The baby could be at risk of:
Because jaundice is so common, medical practitioners should be able to recognize the risks and provide treatment immediately. Bilirubin levels should be checked every eight to 12 hours within the first 24 hours after birth. Treatment should begin immediately if elevated bilirubin levels are detected.
If a medical practitioner does not test bilirubin levels of a newborn or fails to follow-up with treatment after elevated levels are detected, the medical practitioner may be liable for health conditions that result from untreated jaundice.
Who Can You Discuss Negligence With?
Left untreated, jaundice can be very dangerous for a newborn. If your baby suffered a health condition that resulted from a negligent medical practitioner’s failure to recognize or treat jaundice, you may be able to pursue a birth injury lawsuit. We at Abramson, Brown & Dugan understand this is a difficult time for you, so we are committed to compassionately helping you through the legal process. Our New Hampshire birth injury attorneys have years of experience fighting for children and their families and are capable of taking action against negligent medical practitioners.
To determine if you can bring a medical malpractice suit against medical practitioners, contact us online or call us at (603) 323-4622 for a free consultation.