A hyperbilirubinemia diagnosis is common in newborns. While there are no available statistics on how many infants have hyperbilirubinemia, there are statistics available about common complications of this condition—specifically jaundice.
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Jaundice in Newborns
About 60 percent of full-term babies and up to 80% of premature babies will get jaundice. If you have been diagnosed with either diabetes or Rh disease, your newborn’s odds of acquiring hyperbilirubinemia increase. Two percent of breastfed babies will get jaundice in their first week of life.
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Types of Jaundice
When your baby is born, their body has to take over for your placenta and start removing bilirubin from their blood. This can be difficult to accomplish, especially in the first few days of life. When that removal does not happen, your child develops hyperbilirubinemia, which can be a precursor to jaundice. The varying types include:
- Physiologic jaundice happens because of your baby’s difficulty removing bilirubin.
- Breastfeeding failure jaundice happens when there are issues with your baby breastfeeding. It can lead to dangerous dehydration.
- Breastmilk jaundice can last up to twelve weeks and can be caused by a substance in breastmilk.
In addition to these causes, if your baby has Rh disease, they may have jaundice from hemolysis caused by having too many red blood cells or, rarely, from fragile red blood cells.
Hyperbilirubinemia in Your Newborn
Hyperbilirubinemia is the buildup of bilirubin in your baby’s blood. The bilirubin builds up because their liver is unable to remove it.
The Role of Bilirubin in Hyperbilirubinemia
Your baby’s body makes bilirubin during the normal process of breaking down their red blood cells. Bilirubin is a yellow substance found in a fluid in your baby’s liver called bile. Bile helps your son or daughter digest food. When your child has a healthy liver, it naturally removes most of the bilirubin from their body.
Bilirubin has a distinct color that can cause your baby’s skin, eyes, and other tissues to take on a yellowish tinge. Too much bilirubin in your baby’s blood can cause a variety of health problems.
Signs and Symptoms of Hyperbilirubinemia
The symptoms of hyperbilirubinemia often appear differently in each newborn and might include yellowing of your baby’s skin and the whites of their eyes. This discoloration will usually start on your baby’s face and move down their bodies. You or a member of your baby’s health care team might also notice poor feeding and a marked lack of energy.
Hyperbilirubinemia’s symptoms can mimic the symptoms of other conditions which makes it important to seek a proper diagnosis as soon as symptoms are noticed in your newborn.
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Speak to a Hyperbilirubinemia Lawyer Near You
If your baby has been diagnosed with hyperbilirubinemia and you believe untreated jaundice or Rh disease might be the cause, you should consult an attorney right away. An attorney knows that a hyperbilirubinemia diagnosis is common in newborns and can help you assign liability and hold the right people responsible for the role they may have played in your child developing this current medical condition. Call the Birth Injury Lawyers Group at (800) 222-9529 for a free evaluation of your potential birth injury lawsuit.