A recent report details a lesser-known birth injury that is more common than previously thought, in part due to underreporting by the medical profession. Kernicterus is a birth injury caused by severe jaundice. Some of the initial symptoms include unusual sleepiness, lack of appetite and an unnatural skin color. Left undetected, kernicterus can cause devastating effects including severe brain damage. In order to avoid brain trauma, it is essential that jaundice be detected and treated immediately. The effects of kernicterus are irreversible and may include such debilitating effects as brain damage, cerebral palsy and speech, hearing and vision difficulties.
As stated in P.I.C.K., a website designed for families of children with this birth injury, kernicterus is preventable. Often, the signs of jaundice are present and a pediatrician following the requisite standard of care can take certain actions to prevent an infant from developing this potentially debilitating birth complication. If you believe that your infant developed kernicterus as the result of a medical mistake during labor and delivery, it is important to speak to an experienced California medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible to answer your birth injury questions and determine your next steps.
When a child is born who has signs of jaundice, certain preventative actions exist that may decrease or eliminate the risk of your child developing kernicterus. Examples of preventative actions include testing the bilirubin level of the baby. Bilirubin is a substance contained in the blood. If its levels become too high, it can cause significant damage by spreading into the tissues of the brain. When medical staff fails to recognize the signs of jaundice or delay taking action, they may be guilty of medical malpractice.