Jaundice and Kernicterus Birth Injury Lawyer

One of the most common conditions that newborn babies suffer is jaundice. However, when jaundice isn’t carefully monitored and treated, it can lead to a type of brain damage called kernicterus. The development of kernicterus is painfully frustrating since, in most cases, it can be prevented with proper medical attention. A child who develops kernicterus may require care for the rest of their life.

If your child has suffered from kernicterus, cerebral palsy, or another birth injury, call the Pennsylvania birth injury lawyers at Eisenberg, Rothweiler, Winkler, Eisenberg & Jeck, P.C. right away. Our skilled and experienced medical malpractice attorneys have recovered substantial compensation on behalf of our clients in birth injury cases. This includes an $8.9 million award in the case of a child who suffered brain damage when doctors failed to properly expedite the child’s birth, despite signs the child was not getting enough oxygen.

For life’s toughest trials, the team at Eisenberg, Rothweiler, Winkler, Eisenberg & Jeck, P.C. is here to fight for fair compensation for what you and your child have been through. Get a free initial consultation today by calling our office in Philadelphia or visiting our contact page.

What Are Jaundice and Kernicterus?

Jaundice is a fairly common condition affecting around 60 percent of all newborns, according to the March of Dimes. It’s caused by an excessive amount of bilirubin in the blood. Bilirubin is a substance that builds up as red blood cells break down. Normally it’s processed in the liver and excreted from the body. Prior to being born, the mother processes most of the bilirubin for a developing fetus. As a result, it can take a few days for a newborn’s liver to be able to effectively process all the bilirubin that’s built up inside the body.

Most cases of jaundice are minor and go away after a few days. However, newborns who have developed jaundice should be carefully monitored. In some cases, the bilirubin in the body hits a critical level before it can be removed from the body, leading to severe health problems, including kernicterus.

What Causes Kernicterus?

If a newborn is unable to effectively process the bilirubin in their body and the jaundice is left untreated, the bilirubin can build up to such a degree that it leaks out of the blood and into the tissues of the brain, leading to a type of brain damage known as kernicterus.

If a newborn has high levels of bilirubin and isn’t treated quickly, it could lead to kernicterus, which could result in hearing loss, involuntary movements, intellectual disabilities, or even death.

Kernicterus usually occurs within the first week or so of a newborn’s life. Kernicterus symptoms may include:

  • Irritability
  • Extreme jaundice
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Low muscle tone
  • Lack of startle reflex
  • High-pitched crying
  • Poor feeding
  • Arching of the head and back
  • Fever
  • Seizures

How Medical Negligence Can Lead to Kernicterus

Given how prevalent jaundice is in newborns, medical professionals need to be wary and make sure the child gets the treatment they need. Unfortunately, there are many ways in which a doctor or other medical provider can make a mistake, causing a newborn to develop kernicterus.

Kernicterus and medical malpractice sometimes go hand-in-hand.  Common examples of medical malpractice that can lead to kernicterus include:

  • Not examining a newborn for clinical signs of kernicterus if the child has jaundice
  • Failing to order a test of a newborn’s bilirubin level if the child shows signs of jaundice
  • Questioning a high bilirubin level and failing to begin treatment while waiting for a repeated test. As there’s little to no harm in treating excessively high bilirubin, treatment should begin immediately if there’s the possibility of kernicterus, even while waiting for confirmation via a repeated blood test.
  • Not measuring a newborn’s bilirubin level accurately against hour-specific norms. Seemingly tiny changes in a newborn’s bilirubin level can make a major impact depending on how old the child is. For example, a high bilirubin level at 12 hours old is not the same thing as a high level at 24 hours old. Doctors must be careful to compare their test result to standardized formulas for a newborn’s bilirubin level on an hour-by-hour basis.
  • Interrupting treatment for a diagnostic test.

 How ER Legal Can Help

If your child has suffered from kernicterus, you deserve justice for what happened and to have those responsible compensate you for your losses. But to do that, you’ll want help from a driven, experienced medical malpractice team. Here are a few ways Eisenberg, Rothweiler, Winkler, Eisenberg & Jeck, P.C, can help you:

  • Identifying the party responsible for your child’s injuries, as well as all your losses for which you deserve compensation
  • Gathering evidence to support your claim, such as your child’s medical records and testimony from medical experts
  • Helping you find the right doctors to get your child the treatment they need
  • Taking care of all communication and settlement negotiations with the defendants in your claim
  • Preparing your case for trial and bringing it to court, should a trial become necessary.

While we’ll aggressively and skillfully pursue a fair settlement, our firm is not afraid to bring your case to court. From day one, we’ll prepare as if we’re headed for trial, even while pursuing aggressive settlement negotiations.

Get the Compensation Your Child Deserves

You may be able to recover compensation for:

  • The cost of any medical bills related to your child’s treatment, including future care they may require
  • Your child’s pain and suffering
  • Your emotional anguish
  • Your missed wages if you had to miss work because of your child’s injuries (taking them to appointments, for example)
  • Punitive damages if the medical provider or facility acted in an especially reckless manner

Contact Us Today

Birth injuries like kernicterus can have devastating, lifelong effects on your child’s life. The team at Eisenberg, Rothweiler, Winkler, Eisenberg & Jeck, P.C., can help you pursue fair compensation for what you and your child have been through. Call us today or visit our contact page to get a free case review. Count on our experienced trial attorneys to help you through life’s toughest trials.