The recovery options available for newborns diagnosed with hyperbilirubinemia will vary according to the cause of their original diagnosis. The treatment your newborn will receive will depend on factors like the onset of jaundice, your child’s specific symptoms, their age, their overall health, and the severity of their condition.
Bilirubin is an orange-yellow byproduct created from the break-down of blood cells. When the liver is failing to filter this byproduct out, or the newborn’s red blood cells are breaking down faster than they should, the excessive bilirubin becomes apparent in the eyes and skin as a yellow pigment. It is typically a sign of jaundice, anemia, and liver disease.
There are three common recovery options for newborns diagnosed with hyperbilirubinemia. Those three options include:
- Phototherapy treatment uses special blue-spectrum lights to alter the bilirubin levels in the newborn. This treatment can start working within hours.
- During fiber optic blanket treatment, the medical professional will place your baby on top of a blanket, where they will undergo phototherapy treatment.
- During a blood exchange transfusion, your baby’s blood is replaced with fresh blood that has a normal amount of bilirubin.
In addition to the above three treatments, feeding with breastmilk, encouraging good eating habits, and treating infections or any underlying cause of hyperbilirubinemia can help steer your child toward restored health. If these treatments are unsuccessful, your baby may need a liver transplant.
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Common Causes of Hyperbilirubinemia
The recovery options available for newborns diagnosed with hyperbilirubinemia will vary according to its underlying cause. Hyperbilirubinemia is the buildup of excessive amounts of bilirubin in your infant’s blood. This buildup happens because while you were pregnant, your placenta cushioned and protected your baby as they grew. It also removed bilirubin from your baby’s blood.
When a baby is born, their liver takes over the work of excreting bilirubin from his body. A variety of factors can contribute to your baby having too much bilirubin:
- Physiologic jaundice is caused when your newborn is incapable of getting rid of the bilirubin in their body in the first several days of life. This type of jaundice can be a normal response as your child adjusts to life outside the womb.
- Jaundice from hemolysis is caused by Rh incompatibility, which happens when your newborn has a different blood type from yours.
- Breastfeeding failure jaundice occurs when babies do not breastfeed well in the beginning. A failure to breastfeed can cause dehydration, which can lead to a buildup of bilirubin.
- Breastmilk jaundice can result from ingesting a substance—found in your breastmilk—which changes how your baby’s body reabsorbs bilirubin.
Jaundice can also be caused by poor liver function due to an infection. Your baby’s liver is responsible for getting rid of bilirubin. A poorly functioning liver can cause increased levels of bilirubin.
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How Your Newborn’s Doctor Diagnoses Hyperbilirubinemia
When your child’s jaundice appears typically depends on the type of jaundice they have. For example, when the yellowing of the eyes and skin appears on the second or third day, it is usually physiologic jaundice. When it appears at the end of the first week, it is usually breastmilk jaundice or caused by an infection. When it appears in the second week or later, it can be breastmilk jaundice or a liver problem.
Explore Your Legal Options with A Birth Injury Lawyer
Identifying the recovery options available for newborns diagnosed with hyperbilirubinemia can help you understand what the future holds for your son or daughter. You will also want to know if this condition could have been prevented. Call the Birth Injury Lawyers Group at (800) 222-9529 to discuss your child’s case and your options for financial recovery.