Can Untreated Jaundice Harm My Baby Long-Term?

What is Jaundice?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), jaundice is a condition characterized by a yellow color seen in a newborn’s skin or eyes and is caused by a buildup of bilirubin in the child’s blood. This is fairly common, being seen in about 60% of newborns, a rate that can be higher for premature babies. Despite being common, it can have dangerous side effects if left unaddressed.

What Happens If Left Untreated

When jaundice goes too long without being treated, it can develop into a condition called kernicterus and cause permanent brain damage, as well as problems with hearing, vision, and mental disabilities. Early detection is crucial, and medical professionals must be vigilant in informing new parents of the potential signs of jaundice and treating it promptly.

Signs and Symptoms of Jaundice

Although the most notable sign of jaundice is the yellow color in the child, there are several other signs that parents should be watching for within the first two to five days of their child’s life. The following signs and symptoms may suggest the presence of jaundice::

  • Your child is not sleeping or is hard to wake up.
  • Your child is inconsolable or crying in a very high pitch.
  • Your baby’s body is arched backward or unusually stiff or limp.
  • Your baby is having a hard time urinating or having bowel movements.
  • Your child is not feeding properly.

According to the CDC, medical professionals should be checking for signs of jaundice “every 8 to 12 hours in the first 48 hours of life”. Should your child have been discharged earlier than 72 hours, they should see a doctor within two days to ensure that they are still in good health.

How a Medical Malpractice Attorney Can Help

Kernicterus is largely preventable, and no child should risk brain damage from jaundice being left untreated. If the neonatal staff failed to warn you of the signs and risks of jaundice or did not appropriately monitor your child while you were still in their care, they may be held responsible for damage caused by kernicterus.

James Wood Law has been a New Mexico medical malpractice firm for over 20 years and will protect your child’s right to live a safe and healthy life. If you are looking for representation for a medical negligence claim, call (505) 906-6774 to request a consultation.

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