Kernicterus: A PREVENTABLE DISORDER

Attorneys with the Durham firm Crabtree, Carpenter & Connolly have an exceptional track record when it comes to representing the interests of parents of infants or children with Kernicterus.

What is Kernicterus? It is a preventable neurologic disorder caused by delay in diagnosing and treating severe jaundice. Kernicterus can result in cerebal palsy, deafness (auditory neuropathy, or AN) gaze and vision abnormalities, and dental enamel defects.

Jaundice (which comes from bilirubin in red blood cells) affects 60% of newborns in the United States and is the number one reason for hospital readmission during the first week of life. In the last 10-15 years, changes, such as shortened hospital stays and reduced concern about jaundice in general, have led to an increase in babies with excessive untreated jaundice resulting in acute and chronic Kernicterus. The long-term effects of excessive jaundice on the newborn brain can range from subtle (clumsiness, minor fine-motor deficits and sometimes  slight auditory neuropathy) to severe (quadriplegia, total hearing loss, non-verbal).

At the time of the acute jaundice incident, parents are typically able to identify abnormal newborn behaviors including poor feeding, lethargy, arching and a high-pitched cry. Unfortunately, most parents are not warned of the dangers of jaundice before these signs occur. Any parent of a child who was jaundiced and who now has developmental delays, poor muscle tone or visual or hearing problems should investigate  the diagnosis of Kernicterus.

Does your child have Kernicterus? To learn more about prevention, treatment and coping with the disorder, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. To get connected with  professionals and other families dealing with Kernicterus, visit the website of Parents of Infants and Children with Kernicterus. Or give our firm a call to schedule a free initial consultation. We handle these cases across the United States.

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