Knowledgeable Connecticut Elevated Bilirubin Lawyers for Malpractice Claims
Elevated bilirubin, also known as newborn jaundice, is a potentially dangerous condition that requires prompt treatment following a baby’s birth. During pregnancy, the mother’s doctor should monitor the fetus for risk factors that may lead to elevated bilirubin. If one or more risk factors are identified, they should be addressed in order to mitigate the risk of serious and potentially long-term complications.
Sadly, this does not always happen. Often, the risks of elevated levels of bilirubin are downplayed (minor jaundice does not necessarily carry risks and may go away on its own), and in some cases, the fetus’s condition will be overlooked. Both of these mistakes can increase the chances of the baby being born with severe jaundice and potentially developing kernicterus or certain other life-altering conditions.
Elevated Bilirubin (Newborn Jaundice): What Do Parents Need to Know?
As an expectant or new parent, understanding the risk factors, symptoms, and potential complications associated with elevated bilirubin is important. If your child is born with severe jaundice, he or she will need medical treatment promptly, and your family may be entitled to financial compensation for malpractice. Here’s what you need to know:
1. Your Doctor Should Monitor for Risk Factors and Symptoms of Elevated Bilirubin
Due to the risks and relative prevalence of elevated bilirubin, doctors should monitor for risk factors and symptoms throughout the mother’s pregnancy and immediately following childbirth. If one or more risk factors are present during pregnancy, or if a newborn presents with symptoms of elevated bilirubin after birth, appropriate medical care should be provided to ensure that the consequences for the child are no greater than necessary.
Common risk factors for elevated bilirubin that should be considered during pregnancy include:
- Fetal infections
- Glucose-6-phosphate-dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency
- Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE)
- Increased red blood cell count (polycythemia)
- Intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR)
- Poor fetal nutrition
- Premature birth
- Trauma during labor or delivery
Symptoms of elevated bilirubin that may signal the need for prompt medical treatment include:
- Abdominal pain or swelling
- Abnormal irritability
- Dark urine or pale stool
- Limited interest in nursing or feeding
- Limited weight gain
- Muscle weakness
- Yellow skin tone or yellowing of the whites of the eyes
2. If Left Untreated, Elevated Bilirubin Can Potentially Lead to Severe Consequences
While the symptoms of mild newborn jaundice will often go away on their own over time, if left untreated, elevated bilirubin can potentially turn into bilirubin encephalopathy, also known as kernicterus. Bilirubin encephalopathy can be a life-threatening medical condition, and emergency medical treatment may be necessary. This is why the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that doctors examine newborns for jaundice, “at least every eight to 12 hours while in the hospital . . . [and] between the third and seventh day after birth, when bilirubin levels usually peak,” as reported by the Mayo Clinic.
If kernicterus is not promptly diagnosed, and if treatment is not administered promptly, the newborn’s condition can worsen dramatically. Tragically, in some cases, kernicterus can be fatal. Signs that a newborn’s condition is worsening include heightened irritability and crying, seizures, muscle rigidity (particularly in the back, which may be arched), and refusal to nurse or feed. Parents of newborn children who have exhibited any symptoms of jaundice or kernicterus should seek medical attention promptly, and their doctors should immediately determine what treatment is necessary.
3. Kernicterus and Other Complications from Elevated Bilirubin Often Result from Malpractice
In many cases, kernicterus and other complications from elevated bilirubin are the results of malpractice. This includes malpractice during pregnancy (i.e., failure to diagnose risk factors) and malpractice after childbirth (i.e., failure to provide appropriate treatment). While there are no excuses for these kinds of errors, they are made with alarming frequency, and many families are forced to cope with the life-long consequences of their doctors’ mistakes.
If your child’s elevated bilirubin went undiagnosed, or if your child has been diagnosed with kernicterus despite being seen by a doctor after birth, you may have a claim for malpractice. From the exorbitant costs of ongoing medical treatment to the tragic loss of a newborn child, malpractice can have devastating consequences, and families that are suffering deserve to be fully compensated for their losses.
Contact the Connecticut Elevated Bilirubin Attorneys at Berkowitz Hanna
For more information about Connecticut families’ legal rights in cases involving birth injuries resulting from malpractice, schedule a free, no-obligation consultation at Berkowitz Hanna. To speak with one of our highly-experienced lawyers who handle cases involving elevated bilirubin, call or inquire online today.