Hyperbilirubinemia means your baby’s blood contains excessive amounts of bilirubin. Bilirubin is made when your baby’s red blood cells break down. It can be very difficult for some babies to rid their bodies of bilirubin after birth, which can cause it to build up in their blood, tissues, and fluids. This substance is colorful and can cause a yellow tinge on your baby’s skin, eyes, and other tissues. This yellow condition is called jaundice and often shows up at or after the birth of your baby.
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The Causes of Hyperbilirubinemia
Throughout your pregnancy, your placenta does the job of excreting bilirubin for your unborn baby. Once your baby is born, his liver must take on this important function. Hyperbilirubinemia can have several contributing causes, including:
- Physiologic jaundice occurs as a somewhat normal response to your baby’s inability to excrete bilirubin in the first days of life.
- Breast milk jaundice is caused when a substance in your breast milk increases the rate at which bilirubin is reabsorbed through the intestinal tract.
- Jaundice from hemolysis occurs when red blood cells break down due to hemolytic, or Rh, a disease in your newborn or when your newborn has too many red blood cells that break down and release bilirubin.
Inadequate liver function can also contribute to jaundice. Your child’s doctor will be able to tell you exactly what led to a diagnosis of hyperbilirubinemia in your son or daughter.
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The Symptoms of Hyperbilirubinemia
Every newborn might display his or her own distinct set of symptoms that indicate hyperbilirubinemia. The most commonly seen symptoms are:
- A yellowish tinge to skin and eyes
- Lack of interest in feeding
- Persistent lethargy
Many of the symptoms of hyperbilirubinemia resemble those of other medical conditions. For a definitive diagnosis and treatment plan, consult your baby’s doctor or healthcare provider.
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How Hyperbilirubinemia Is Diagnosed in My Baby
The timing of the initial signs of jaundice in your baby is critical to diagnosis because jaundice that appears in the first twenty-four hours is usually serious and requires immediate treatment. Jaundice appearing on the second or third day is usually physiologic. Jaundice appearing toward the end of your baby’s first week is usually caused by breastmilk jaundice or by an infection. Jaundice appearing in the second week is usually caused by breastmilk but can also be caused by rare liver issues.
Your child’s physician will conduct tests to confirm a diagnosis of hyperbilirubinemia that includes assessing direct and indirect bilirubin levels and red blood cell counts. Your child’s doctor may also conduct a Coomb’s test to type and test your child’s blood for Rh incompatibility.
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Treatment Options Are Available for Hyperbilirubinemia
Specific treatment for hyperbilirubinemia will depend on factors like your baby’s gestational age, overall health, medical history, the extent of the disease, and your child’s ability to tolerate specific medications, procedures, and therapies. Treatments may include:
- Phototherapy which exposes your baby to specialized blue spectrum lights. It can take several hours to show signs of improvement and will be used and monitored throughout the day and night.
- Fiberoptic blankets, another form of phototherapy, might be placed under your baby. A fiberoptic blanket can be used alone or with traditional phototherapy.
- Exchange transfusion replaces your baby’s damaged blood with fresh blood. It helps increase red blood cell count and lower bilirubin levels.
- Ensuring adequate hydration with breastfeeding or expressed breast milk is usually done in conjunction with phototherapy for infants who are dehydrated or who experience excessive weight loss.
In addition to these treatments, your child’s medical team may also attempt to treat the underlying cause of their hyperbilirubinemia.
Low levels of bilirubin are usually not a cause for alarm, but large amounts can be dangerous when they circulate to the tissues in your baby’s brain. This condition, called kernicterus, caused by severe jaundice, is potentially irreversible brain damage. Early recognition, diagnoses, and treatment can prevent bilirubin levels from becoming dangerously excessive.
Left undiagnosed or untreated, jaundice in your newborn can be dangerous and life-threatening. Red flags your child’s doctor should look for include jaundice in the first day of life, higher than usual total serum bilirubin counts, lethargy, irritability, and respiratory distress.
File a Lawsuit on Behalf of Your Son or Daughter
If your son or daughter has been diagnosed with hyperbilirubinemia and you believe it could have been prevented, you may have the basis of a birth injury lawsuit. Your child is entitled to the best of care, and you deserve to provide it for them. A birth injury lawyer in your area can help you receive the financial compensation you deserve. Call the Birth Injury Lawyers Group today at (800) 222-9529 for a free case review with an attorney in your state.
What Can Be Done To Prevent Hyperbilirubinemia In Newborns?
If your son or daughter was diagnosed with Hyperbilirubinemia, you might want to know how this condition could have been avoided. You will also want to identify ways to prevent Hyperbilirubinemia in newborns if you are planning more additions to your family.
In many cases, Hyperbilirubinemia cannot be entirely prevented, but early recognition and treatment can help prevent Hyperbilirubinemia from developing into more serious conditions when bilirubin levels continue to rise to increasingly dangerous levels.
Hyperbilirubinemia is most easily prevented in cases of breastfeeding failure jaundice. Feedings should start within an hour of birth and continue every two or three hours at a minimum. Ideally, your newborn should be fed any time they show signs of wanting to eat. Identifying the signs of jaundice early and seeking prompt treatment right away can help prevent your baby’s bilirubin from rising to dangerous levels.
It might also be possible to prevent Hyperbilirubinemia in newborns when the underlying cause is Rh disease or Rh incompatibility. Rh incompatibility means your blood is Rh-negative and your unborn child has Rh-positive blood. Rh incompatibility means your immune system creates Rh antibodies that drive an immune system attack against your baby because your body views your baby’s blood as a foreign object.
Because Rh factors are genetic, no one can choose which Rh type your baby will have. However, if you are Rh-negative and your baby is Rh-positive, Rh incompatibility can be prevented when you receive certain medications at specific times during your pregnancy.
THE SYMPTOMS OF HYPERBILIRUBINEMIA OR JAUNDICE
Most hospitals today will examine your newborn for the signs and symptoms of jaundice prior to discharging them. Your son or daughter should be carefully examined for signs of jaundice between their third and seventh day of life because this timeframe represents when bilirubin levels typically peak. The following signs or symptoms may suggest that your baby has excessive bilirubin levels:
- Your baby seems listless or lethargic
- Your baby’s cry becomes high-pitched
- Your baby’s skin develops a yellow tinge
- Your baby has difficulty rousing or waking
- The whites of your baby’s eyes look yellow
- Your baby feeds poorly or has slow weight gain
Many of the typical symptoms that help prevent Hyperbilirubinemia in newborns can be seen in other medical conditions as well, which makes prompt medical attention extremely important.
HOW HYPERBILIRUBINEMIA OR JAUNDICE IS DIAGNOSED
Timing plays a significant role in diagnosing Hyperbilirubinemia. The timing of the first signs of jaundice can help your baby’s healthcare provider make a specific diagnosis.
- Jaundice in the first 24 hours of birth is usually extremely serious and should be treated right away
- Jaundice on the second or third day usually indicates physiologic jaundice which can also be very serious
- Jaundice toward the end of the first week may come from breastmilk jaundice or from an infection
- Jaundice in the second week is typically caused by breastmilk jaundice but can also be caused by rare liver disorders
Along with attention to timing, your child’s doctor might perform the following tests to reach a confirmed diagnosis:
- Direct and indirect bilirubin levels that will indicate whether bilirubin is bound with other substances by your child’s liver
- Tests to determine your newborn’s red blood cell counts
- A Coomb’s test that types blood for Rh incompatibility
Your child’s doctor will explain each exam and its outcome to you in detail.
WHEN HYPERBILIRUBINEMIA OR JAUNDICE IS UNTREATED OR UNDIAGNOSED
The best way to prevent Hyperbilirubinemia in newborns is to pay careful attention to symptoms during prenatal checkups and labor and delivery. Your newborn should also be watched carefully in their first few days of life and symptoms should be diagnosed immediately. When left untreated and undiagnosed, high levels of bilirubin can result in serious complications that include:
- Acute Bilirubin Encephalopathy – bilirubin passing into the brain that can cause significant and lasting brain damage. Signs of acute bilirubin encephalopathy include listlessness, high-pitched crying, poor feeding, backward arching of the neck and body, and fever.
- Kernicterus – is a syndrome that occurs if acute bilirubin encephalopathy causes permanent brain damage. It can result in athetoid cerebral palsy (involuntary and uncontrolled movements), a permanent upward gaze, hearing loss, and improperly developed tooth enamel.
The simplest methods of preventing infant jaundice are good prenatal care and adequate feeding. Your OBGYN should perform prenatal tests and screenings that promote a safe, healthy pregnancy, delivery, and newborn.
A LAWSUIT CAN HELP YOU GET THE MEDICAL CARE YOUR NEWBORN DESERVES
If you or your doctor notice any of the symptoms of Hyperbilirubinemia, prompt medical treatment is extremely important. If steps to prevent Hyperbilirubinemia in newborns were not taken in your child’s case, you might be entitled to file a birth injury lawsuit on their behalf. Speak to a lawyer near you today to explore your legal options. Call the Birth Injury Lawyers Group at (800) 261-9292.
What Factors Contribute To The Formation Of Hyperbilirubinemia?
Many factors contribute to the formation of Hyperbilirubinemia in newborns. Among the contributing factors of Hyperbilirubinemia is a newborn’s limited ability to excrete bilirubin in the first few days following their birth. In utero, your placenta does this job. After his birth, your baby must learn to do it for himself which can take time.
Another factor that contributes to the formation of Hyperbilirubinemia is a substance in breast milk that increases the reabsorption of bilirubin through your baby’s intestinal tract. When your newborn does not receive an optimal intake of milk, it can lead to elevated bilirubin levels, which are also caused by the increased reabsorption of bilirubin in your baby’s intestines.
The failure to initiate breastfeeding can also be a contributing factor to the formation of Hyperbilirubinemia because it can lead to dehydration, decreased urine production, and an accumulation of bilirubin. Prematurity can also contribute to the formation of Hyperbilirubinemia. Late preterm infants are more prone to Hyperbilirubinemia due to a lack of coordination and strength needed to successfully breastfeed.
Rh incompatibility can contribute to jaundice from hemolysis. It can occur with the breakdown of red blood cells due to Rh disease or from having too many red blood cells that break down and release bilirubin. Finally, inadequate liver function caused by an infection is one of the factors that contribute to the formation of Hyperbilirubinemia.
OVERVIEW OF HYPERBILIRUBINEMIA
Hyperbilirubinemia is a condition where your newborn son or daughter has too much bilirubin in their blood. Normally, when red blood cells break down, they create a substance called bilirubin. Sometimes, babies are not easily able to rid their bodies of bilirubin because your placenta did this job for them up until they were born.
Your baby’s inability to remove bilirubin can lead to a dangerous buildup of bilirubin in their blood, fluids, and other bodily tissues. This condition is called Hyperbilirubinemia, and because bilirubin has a distinct color, it causes a yellowing of your baby’s skin and the whites of his eyes. This condition is called jaundice. Depending on what factors contribute to the formation of Hyperbilirubinemia in your newborn, jaundice can appear at birth or at any point in time after birth.
WHY HYPERBILIRUBINEMIA IS DANGEROUS FOR YOUR NEWBORN
Hyperbilirubinemia is dangerous because it causes an excessive buildup of bilirubin in your newborn. High levels of bilirubin can circulate to the tissues in your baby’s brain which can cause seizures and brain damage. This condition is called kernicterus.
Kernicterus is the result of severe jaundice which leads to a type of brain damage. Kernicterus can lead to athetoid cerebral palsy and hearing loss in your baby. It can also cause vision problems, dental problems, and intellectual disabilities. Early diagnosis and treatment of jaundice can easily prevent kernicterus.
ATHETOID CEREBRAL PALSY
Cerebral palsy is a medical disorder that is caused by a birth injury and, in turn, causes its sufferers to experience an inability to control their muscles. In healthy children, their brain tells their body what to do and when. Depending on what part of the brain is affected in children with cerebral palsy, their brains may be unable to tell their bodies to walk, talk, eat, or play. Athetoid cerebral palsy will affect your child’s ability to control their muscles. That can mean their arms and legs may flutter uncontrollably or move suddenly.
BRUISING AND THE INCREASED RISK OF HYPERBILIRUBINEMIA
Many birth injuries can cause bruising in newborns. When a birth injury leads to bruising, it can increase the likelihood of your son or daughter having jaundice. A bruise is caused on your baby when blood leaks out of his blood vessels. This leakage will cause your baby’s skin to look black and blue.
As large bruises on your baby start to heal, they can cause increased levels of bilirubin. This increase in bilirubin can then lead to jaundice in your newborn. If your son or daughter shows any signs of jaundice, it is very important to seek medical attention as soon as possible.
THE BIRTH INJURY LAWYERS GROUP IS ON YOUR SIDE
Is your son or daughter undergoing health challenges because of a diagnosis of Hyperbilirubinemia? Were the factors that contribute to the formation of Hyperbilirubinemia overlooked in your newborn? If you can answer yes to either or both of these questions, you may have the basis of a birth injury lawsuit.
A birth injury lawsuit can help you receive a monetary award to cover your child’s medical expenses. Speak to an attorney who can help you understand the full scope of your legal rights. Your child deserves the best medical care and you deserve to provide it for them. Contact the Birth Injury Lawyers Group at (800) 261-9292 today to schedule your free consultation.
How Does Hyperbilirubinemia Affect A Newborn?
Hyperbilirubinemia is a buildup of bilirubin in your baby’s blood. It can have a number of adverse effects on your newborn. Chief among these effects is a yellowish tinge to your baby’s skin and the whites of their eyes. This condition is called jaundice.
Additional ways hyperbilirubinemia affects a newborn can include poor feeding habits and a noticeable lack of energy.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT JAUNDICE
Jaundice is caused by a buildup of bilirubin in your child’s blood. Jaundice left untreated or undiagnosed can cause kernicterus.
KERNICTERUS IN YOUR NEWBORN CAN CAUSE CEREBRAL PALSY AND SEIZURES
Kernicterus is the result of these excessively high levels of bilirubin in your baby’s blood. Kernicterus is extremely serious and can cause athetoid cerebral palsy, seizures, hearing loss, vision and dental problems, and intellectual disabilities in your son or daughter.
Cerebral palsy is a medical disorder that can result from a birth injury. Children with athetoid cerebral palsy will experience difficulty controlling their muscles and movements. This happens because your child’s brain is unable to clearly instruct their body. Their long-term prognosis will depend on which part of your baby’s brain is affected by the disorder.
Children with athetoid cerebral palsy may have arms and legs that flutter or move suddenly. Athetoid cerebral palsy is a lifelong affliction that will not worsen over time but that cannot be cured. Your child might be unable to move or efficiently control their ability to walk, talk, eat, and play.
Seizures are an irregular disturbance of the electrical activity in your baby’s brain. Seizures can alter your newborn’s awareness and cause abnormal sensations, involuntary movements, and convulsions. Infant seizures can be caused by low blood sugar levels, inherited disorders, and other serious disorders like brain malformations, serious infections, birth injuries incurred during pregnancy, and lack of oxygen during birth.
UNDERSTANDING BILIRUBIN’S EFFECT ON YOUR NEWBORN
Bilirubin is the result of your baby’s body breaking down its red blood cells. In the first days of life, it can be very difficult for your new baby to get rid of bilirubin which can build up in their blood, tissues, and bodily fluids.
Bilirubin has a distinct color—it is a yellowish substance found in bile, a fluid in your baby’s liver that assists in the digestion of food. When your child has a healthy liver, it removes most of the bilirubin from their body. If your child’s liver is damaged in any way, it can cause a dangerous condition where bilirubin leaks out into your baby’s blood.
How Birth Injuries and Bruises Cause Hyperbilirubinemia in Your Newborn
Hyperbilirubinemia affects a newborn in a seemingly endless number of ways. It is natural to wonder how your newborn will be affected and how they might have been bruised during the process of being born. Many birth injuries contribute to bruising on your baby as a result of the physical pressure exerted on your infant during labor and delivery.
Most birth injuries occur as your baby makes his way through your birth canal. This arduous journey along with the use of assistive birth devices like forceps and vacuum extractors can create undue pressure on your baby’s body that can lead to significant bruising. When these bruises start to heal, they might cause increased bilirubin due to the breakdown of excess red blood cells.
TALK TO A BIRTH INJURY LAWYER NEAR YOU TODAY
Was the delivery of your son or daughter marred by the sight of bruises or by the news that your baby has hyperbilirubinemia? If your child is suffering from the effects of hyperbilirubinemia, there may be legal and financial help available for you.
Schedule a no-cost, no-obligation consultation with a birth injury attorney near you. Contact the Birth Injury Lawyers Group at (800) 261-9292 for a free consultation today.
Can Hyperbilirubinemia Be a Precursor to Other Ailments or Diseases in Newborns?
Hyperbilirubinemia is a serious medical condition that can have severe consequences. It can also be a precursor to other ailments or diseases in newborns. In some children, hyperbilirubinemia can be harmless. In others, it can be harmful, depending on what caused the condition in the first place. Its severity can also play a role in the consequences that follow a diagnosis.
Excessively high bilirubin levels are always a matter of serious concern. Some causes of hyperbilirubinemia are innately dangerous no matter what the coexisting bilirubin level is. Brain damage is among the major consequences of hyperbilirubinemia in newborns. Acute encephalopathy, a rare neurological condition seen in some newborns with severe jaundice, can be followed by neurologic impairments like cerebral palsy and kernicterus.
What Is Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder caused by damage to your baby’s brain as it develops before, during, or immediately after their birth. If your child is diagnosed with cerebral palsy, they will have noticeable trouble controlling their muscles. Because it affects your child’s brain, cerebral palsy might lead to your child’s inability to walk, talk, eat, or play due to cognitive and developmental delays. Your child might be afflicted with one of three types of cerebral palsy:
- Spastic cerebral palsy is the most common type of the disorder. If your child has spastic cerebral palsy, they will have muscles that are stiff or difficult to relax.
- Athetoid cerebral palsy is often seen in children who suffer from hyperbilirubinemia. If your child has athetoid cerebral palsy, their arms and legs may flutter or move unexpectedly.
- Ataxic cerebral palsy is characterized by difficulty in establishing and maintaining balance and coordination.
Hyperbilirubinemia can be a precursor to other ailments or diseases in newborns like cerebral palsy, which can be mild, moderate, or severe depending on how much of your child’s brain was affected. Underweight and premature infants have a higher risk of being diagnosed with cerebral palsy.
What Are Jaundice and Kernicterus?
Jaundice is characterized by a yellow tinge in the skin and eyes of your newborn. Jaundice is caused by a buildup of bilirubin in your child’s blood. When severe jaundice is left untreated for too long, it can lead to a condition called kernicterus.
Kernicterus is a type of brain damage that is caused by excessively high levels of bilirubin in your baby’s blood. Kernicterus can cause athetoid cerebral palsy, hearing loss, vision and dental problems, and intellectual disabilities. Kernicterus is easily avoided with early detection, diagnosis, and treatment of infant jaundice.
How Is Hyperbilirubinemia Diagnosed in Newborns?
Your newborn’s diagnostic process will start with a physical and visual exam. The doctor will look for signs of jaundice, including yellow skin and eyes in your infant. A laboratory exam will determine if your baby’s blood contains excessive levels of bilirubin. The timing of the appearance of jaundice is an important factor in your child’s diagnosis.
- Jaundice appearing on the first day of life is serious and requires immediate treatment.
- Jaundice appearing on the second or third day is also serious and requires prompt treatment.
- Jaundice appearing in week one might be caused by an infection.
- Jaundice appearing in week two might be related to breast milk feedings.
Other diagnostic procedures might include testing your child’s direct and indirect bilirubin levels, red blood cell counts, and Rh compatibility.
What Are the Treatment Options for Hyperbilirubinemia?
Because hyperbilirubinemia can be a precursor to other ailments or diseases in newborns, treating it is typically geared toward treating its underlying cause. Prompt, effective treatment is important to ensure bilirubin is properly excreted from your child’s body as soon as possible to avoid the possibility of hyperbilirubinemia developing into a more serious disorder. Treatment options for hyperbilirubinemia include:
- Phototherapy is a treatment with a specialized fluorescent white light. The light used in phototherapy changes the molecular structure of unconjugated bilirubin into forms that are easily and rapidly excreted by the liver and kidney.
- Exchange transfusion is a slow, systematic replacement of small amounts of blood through an umbilical vein catheter. This treatment option removes partially hemolyzed and antibody-coated red blood cells and replaces them with healthy ones.
Your doctor will discuss treatment options with you according to the cause and severity of hyperbilirubinemia in your child.
TALK TO AN ATTORNEY ABOUT INFANT HYPERBILIRUBINEMIA TODAY
Hyperbilirubinemia can be a precursor to other ailments or diseases in newborns. If hyperbilirubinemia led to an even more serious medical condition in your newborn, you might be eligible to file a lawsuit for financial compensation.
An attorney can tell you if the standard of care was met in your case or if your child’s current condition could have been avoided. Contact the Birth Injury Lawyers Group at (800) 261-9292 to discuss the details of your case and the full range of your legal options with an attorney in your state.
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