Jaundice is a common condition among newborn babies. It develops when an infant has abnormally high levels of bilirubin present inside of the blood. This substance is created by the body during the process of replacing red blood cells. Normally, the liver works to break down and remove bilirubin from the body. When that is not happening, the bilirubin causes the baby's skin and eyes to take on a yellowish tinge, which is jaundice. According to the National Institute of Health, jaundice can have serious health consequences if not treated adequately and quickly.
Most cases of mild jaundice are harmless, clearing up on its own within two to four days after birth. However, according to the NIH, any level of jaundice merits strict and regular monitoring as soon as possible. This is accomplished through a skin assessment or a blood test of bilirubin levels. If the testing process show that levels are increasing, instead of decreasing, treatment of the condition should begin while the infant is still in the hospital. The baby should feed often to promote frequent bowel movements. The body can remove excessive bilirubin through the stools.
Treatment of Jaundice
If the levels remain elevated, light therapy treatment is a viable option. The newborn is placed under a blue light, wearing only a diaper and protective eye wear. The light works to break down the bilirubin that remains inside of the blood. If the infant is sent home, the parents should receive a light therapy blanket. The NIH advises, for at home therapies:
*Allow a nurse into your home to set up the therapy and check on the levels daily
*The light source must remain on the child's skin as much as possible
*The infant must have feedings 10 to 13 times per day
*Keep a record of the number of wet and dirty diapers each day
For the most severe levels of jaundice, treatment should reportedly include an exchange transfusion, where doctor's replace the infant's blood. Physicians may also choose an intravenous treatment of antibiotics.
Though most treatment methods are successful in controlling bilirubin levels, poor diagnosis or inappropriate treatment decisions can potentially lead to significant damages. Even after the newborn leaves the hospital, the first pediatric visits should address any jaundice concerns. Though rare, jaundice can reportedly result in:
According to the NIH, there are some steps that an OB GYN can take to detect the likelihood of significant jaundice. Blood tests to determine the mother's blood type should be done. If it is determined that the mother is Rh negative or O positive, the physician may choose to conduct a follow-up test on the infant's umbilical cord to determine whether the child's blood type is incompatible with the mother's. If physicians do not take necessary precautions and apply adequate treatments, they may be liable for further complications to the baby.
If your infant experienced significant injury from jaundice, contact an experienced attorney soon to protect your legal rights.
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