Newborn babies have delicate and immature organ systems that don’t always function properly immediately after delivery. Due to the immaturity of the liver, many newborns develop a condition called jaundice. Jaundice is the yellowing of the eyes and skin from an excess of bilirubin in the blood caused by the inability of a newborn’s liver to filter it out of the bloodstream fast enough. Jaundice is common among newborns, especially those born prematurely, and it is usually minor and resolves with minimally invasive or no treatment at all. Left untreated, however, severe jaundice can lead to serious lifelong medical complications. If your doctor failed to properly diagnose or treat your child’s jaundice, resulting in health complications, he or she may have committed a form of medical malpractice. We welcome you to call our offices at for your free consultation where you can speak freely to a medical malpractice lawyer.
High Risk Patients for Untreated Jaundice
Although every newborn could potentially develop jaundice, some babies are at a particularly high risk for severe jaundice that can result in complications if not adequately addressed. High risk factors include:
- Babies with diseases affecting the liver, gallbladder, or pancreas, such as Gilbert syndrome, Dubin-Johnson syndrome, Rotor syndrome, Crigler-Najjar syndrome, hepatitis, cystic fibrosis, and immune disorders
- Breast-fed and premature babies
- Babies who have infections or suffered from an in-utero infection
- Babies who had especially difficult or traumatic deliveries
- Babies with a blood type different from their mother’s
Symptoms and Treatment of Jaundice
Jaundice is characterized by yellowing of the skin, eyes, and mucus membranes. Infants may also exhibit poor feeding habits and extreme fatigue. In addition, blood tests will reveal elevated levels of bilirubin.
Once severe jaundice presents, it must be properly monitored and treated. This involves frequent observation, and blood draws. Treatment for severe jaundice can include:
- Light Therapy – Phototherapy exposes jaundiced babies to a spectrum of light that helps their body break down and eliminate excess bilirubin.
- Intravenous Immunoglobulin – A transfusion of immunoglobulin can reduce the level of antibodies in a jaundiced baby’s blood. This can aid in the healthy processing and elimination of excess bilirubin.
- Exchange Transfusion – The most serious treatment reserved for babies who don’t respond well to other treatments, an exchange transfusion withdraws small amounts of blood, dilutes the bilirubin, and transfuses it back into a baby.
Consequences of Untreated Jaundice
Severe untreated jaundice can result in serious lifelong medical problems, including cerebral palsy, brain damage, and hearing impairment, all caused by high levels of bilirubin in the bloodstream.
If your doctor failed to properly recognize and treat your child’s severe jaundice, resulting in injury, he or she may be liable for medical malpractice. Jaundice is a very common and highly treatable condition among infants and babies. There is no reason it should ever be left to progress into lifelong complications for your child. If your family has been a victim of medical malpractice, please call Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. at to schedule a free consultation with a Chicago birth injury lawyer. Our experienced and dedicated attorneys are ready to give you the care you deserve. Please don’t hesitate to call one of our birth injury attorneys – medical malpractice claims have short statute of limitations. Call us today at (312) 637-6028 to schedule your free case consultation.