Kernicterus is diagnosed in a few ways. First and foremost, doctors will use a light meter to see how a baby’s skin reacts. Because infant jaundice is present in cases of kernicterus, diagnosing jaundice is the first step to handling kernicterus. If a baby’s skin shows any warning signs of jaundice, then a doctor may order a more comprehensive blood test.
As a precursor to kernicterus, jaundice occurs when a chemical known as bilirubin is too prevalent in a newborn’s blood. If not treated promptly, jaundice can turn into kernicterus, which is known to cause brain damage and a range of developmental problems in young children. There are many ways to prevent jaundice from turning into a condition such as kernicterus, but early diagnosis is an important piece of the puzzle.
There are several ways that medical professionals may examine the early warning signs of jaundice and kernicterus. Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a baby’s bilirubin may be checked by a doctor or nurse by using a light meter placed on the baby’s head to obtain a transcutaneous bilirubin (TcB) level. If the TcB level is high, a blood test will typically be ordered. After performing preliminary tests like these, blood tests serve to offer greater precision in a doctor’s diagnosis of jaundice and kernicterus.
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Why Early Diagnosis of Kernicterus and Treatment Matters
The early diagnosis of jaundice can prevent the condition from developing into more serious conditions such as kernicterus. In many cases, medical professionals aim to diagnose the condition before a mother and their baby are discharged from their place of birth. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a provider-driven “systems approach” has been widely adopted in the West to identify babies at risk before discharge from a birthing center with follow up monitoring centered on the serum bilirubin level at the time of discharge.
When a doctor fails to catch the early warning signs of jaundice and kernicterus, the condition may develop without the proper treatment methods in place. A misdiagnosis can produce similar results. These forms of negligence often leave victims with several questions. If you suspect that you or your baby experienced an act of medical malpractice that led to a condition like kernicterus, then you may be owed compensation. A lawyer who focuses on birth injury law can work to investigate the details of your scenario as they strive to establish a liable party.
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Kernicterus Treatment Options
When doctors diagnose jaundice early, they can begin to implement treatments. The use of therapeutic lights serves as one common treatment method. With this treatment, medical professionals use a special light to induce the excretion of chemical buildup in a baby’s blood cells. In many cases, these treatments are enacted in hospitals and birth centers, but they can also be performed in a parent’s home.
As an even simpler form of treatment, doctors may suggest increased feeding. Similar to light therapy, higher nutrition levels encourage the excretion of built-up chemicals through urine and stools. Doctors may also suggest certain supplements to aid in this process.
More serious treatment forms may be necessary if an infant’s jaundice is severe. A blood transfusion can help to restore regular levels of chemicals such as bilirubin. This treatment method is a bit more intensive and requires close medical attention to ensure safety and efficiency. Doctors may also suggest intravenous blood transfusions to balance out antibodies in a newborn’s blood. The treatment options for jaundice and kernicterus depend on the severity of the condition and the diagnosis.
Contact Our Office to Learn More About Birth Injuries and Your Right to Compensation
If you have ever found yourself wondering how kernicterus is diagnosed, then you may be facing potential problems with infant jaundice in your newborn. While many cases can be treated and handled with an early diagnosis, those that slip under the radar pose numerous potential risks for children. Unfortunately, acts of medical malpractice and negligence are all too common when it comes to the diagnosis of conditions such as kernicterus.
If you suspect that your doctor failed to promptly or accurately diagnose jaundice or kernicterus in your newborn child, then you may be eligible to receive compensation for your medical expenses and other damages. To learn more, contact the Birth Injury Lawyers Group today at (800) 222-9529 for a free consultation.