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The Causes of Kernicterus

Posted in Birth Injury, Blog on June 30, 2009

Kernicterus is a form of brain damage caused by a build-up of bilirubin, the substance left over when red blood cells die, in your bloodstream. Bilirubin causes your skin to develop a yellow tint, and it may lead to the development of jaundice. Jaundice is usually harmless. However, if the bilirubin levels in your bloodstream reach very high levels, it may enter the brain, causing brain damage.

Kernicterus is easily avoidable. If your baby shows signs of jaundice, you should visit your doctor immediately for treatment. With competent medical care, your child’s condition will improve, and there will be no risk of developing kernicterus. Unfortunately, many doctors make medical errors which may lead to your baby developing kernicterus and acute kernicterus.

Some common errors that can explain the causes of kernicterus include:

  • A doctor might not believe the bilirubin levels in a child’s test results and order a second test.
  • A doctor might see the jaundice in a baby and assume it will go away on its own.
  • The doctor stops phototherapy, used to treat jaundice, causing kernicterus to develop or get worse.
  • A doctor uses indirect bilirubin in treatment which can cause the bilirubin in your child’s blood to be displaced and enter the brain tissue.
  • The doctor does not compare the bilirubin to hour specific norms.

If you live in New Jersey or Pennsylvania and believe your child developed kernicterus due to a medical error, please contact the New Jersey medical malpractice attorneys at Weiss & Paarz, P.C. today to schedule a confidential consultation.



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