Jaundice, which is the clinical manifestation of hyperbilirubinemia (too much bilirubin in the blood), occurs in about one-half of term newborns as well as most premature babies (85%). Elevated bilirubin levels are also associated with low birth weight babies, sepsis, delivery requiring instrumentation, and history of maternal diabetes.
“Hyperbilirubinemia is also associated with epidural anesthesia and Oxtyocin,” said Syracuse birth injury lawyer Michael A. Bottar, Esq., of Bottar Leone, PLLC. “Epidural anesthesia is the most popular mode of pain relief during labor and, while it is widely believed that regional anesthetics present little if any risk to an unborn baby, this is not true in all cases.” Epidural anesthesia is associated with fetal respiratory depression, decreased fetal heart rate, fetal malpresentation, and difficulty breastfeeding after birth. Likewise, Oxytocin (i.e., Pitocin) may also cause hyperbilirubinemia.
Where a pregnant mother receives an epidural, or where labor is augmented by Oxytocin to stimulate contractions, the obstetrician and labor and delivery nurses should be on alert for newborn hyperbilirubinemia Neonatologists and pediatricians should also conduct appropriate surveillance by testing serum bilirubin levels.
While too much bilirubin in a baby’s blood is easily treated by phototherapy (or an exchange transfusion in severe cases), it can lead to permanent brain damage if the diagnosis is not made early. Baby brain damage caused by exposure to too much bilirubin is known as kernicterus. Kernicterus can cause cerebral palsy and other permanent disabilities such as long-term hearing loss, behavioral problems, and bilirubin induced neurological dysfunction (BIND).
The trial lawyers at Bottar Leone, PLLC, have decades of experience investigating, prosecuting and trying to verdict all types of medical malpractice cases, including those concerning babies diagnosed with a disability due severe jaundice. If your child has been diagnosed with a disability, you and/or your family may be entitled to compensation for lifelong health care, medical expenses, medical bills, loss of income, and pain and suffering.
To discuss your case or concerns with an experienced Central New York medical malpractice and birth injury lawyer, contact Bottar Leone, PLLC at (315) 422-3466, (800) 336-LAWS, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.