Understanding the Dangers of Hyperbilirubinemia in Newborns

The final weeks leading up to a baby’s delivery can be the most crucial during a pregnancy. It falls to an experienced, and responsible physician to ensure that mothers and babies can pass these days smoothly, and safely, without causing health problems for either. Because two of our top birth injury lawyers were trained as medical physicians, they understand everything that a doctor should be doing at this most pivotal stage and in the minutes after a successful delivery.

Unfortunately, instances of malpractice and misdiagnosis during pregnancy have increased in recent years. One occurrence in particular that alarms us, and requires our legal support is the condition known as hyperbilirubinemia.

Definition of the Condition

When a newborn is developing in the womb, complications may occur that affect how the neonate liver processes the yellow bile that is bilirubin. In fact, if too much fetal hemoglobin is rapidly produced and the baby’s liver can’t break the bilirubin down, this can case excessive bilirubin excretion into the baby’s bloodstream.

Potentials for Malpractice

At Gershon, Willoughby, & Getz, our birth injury lawyers have been serving the Baltimore area, taking up cases of malpractice resulting from excessive bilirubin in infants.

Upon observing any symptoms of hyperbilirubinemia in a newborn, doctors should quickly order that a baby’s blood be tested for high levels of bilirubin. When visible, symptoms can include a yellowing of the facial skin, a yellowing of the whites of a baby’s eyes, lethargy, and unwillingness to feed.

Responding to the Condition

Once a physician has reason to believe that an infant is suffering from jaundice, he or she should then administer phototherapy, thereby reducing bilirubin levels in the blood of the baby. In order to maximize the efficacy of such a treatment, doctors must also identify any other potential liver diseases that the baby may be suffering. A failure to respond in a swift and authoritative manner can aggravate the condition even further, resulting in damage to the infant’s brain.

Assessing Your Malpractice Case

If you believe your infant has been affected by hyperbilirubinemia, our lawyers will do all they can to study your case and bring you justice. Utilizing our medical expertise and knowledge of the law, we’ll identify the exact instances of malpractice and compensation that you, and your infant and loved ones are owed.

The Prenatal Risks of Diabetes

If you’ve ever experienced diabetes, you know how much it alters your lifestyle and affects your health. Over 12 million women in the US are affected by diabetes, forcing a change of diets, and activities. If diabetes is not diagnosed, monitored, and controlled, it can cause a range of repercussions—blindness, kidney failure, and coma, being only some. If pregnant, women, and their preborn children, are all the more susceptible to the dangers of diabetes.

The Spectrum of Diabetes

As former physicians, some of us are acquainted with diabetes as a medical condition. You see three types of diabetes among patients; two of which you undoubtedly already know.

  • Type I is diagnosed as an autoimmune disease, appearing early in childhood or adolescence. Patients typically report symptoms like frequent urination, extreme thirst, and fluctuations in weight.
  • Type II is the more ubiquitous of the two, treated as a metabolic disorder that rises and waxes with diet and exercise. Some patients take medications to regulate their blood sugar levels.
  • Gestational is of great concern to us, being attorneys specialized in cerebral palsy. Though its occurrence is rare, gestational diabetes stems from hormonal changes in the placenta. When insulin production is hindered, oxygen does not flow effectively between a mother and her child.

Healthy Pregnancy Is Paramount

If diagnosed with diabetes during pregnancy, it is essential to your health, and the health of your baby, that you consult a physician throughout. Pregnant mothers with type 1 or type 2 diabetes must guard against spikes in their fetus’s blood sugars. Gestational diabetes occur between the 24th and 28th weeks of pregnancy, endangering the fetus’s organs.

Because type 2 diabetes often goes undiagnosed, and untreated, pregnant mothers should always see a physician during these delicate months. A doctor will order blood tests and be able to detect the symptoms of diabetes. Mothers with type 1 diabetes may require a more nuanced approach, utilizing the expertise of an obstetrician and registered dietitian.

Potential Consequence of Diabetes

In their defense of victims of medical negligence, our birth injury attorneys have handled the cases of diabetics, be it in Baltimore or any surrounding area. It is a doctor’s responsibility to be as vigilant as possible, when consulting a pregnant woman with diabetes. A delay in blood work can result in consequences as unfortunate as a diabetic coma—and conditions like cerebral palsy for newborns.

The Life of the Placenta: Prenatal to Post-Delivery

As your baby grows inside of the womb, he or she is growing alongside an organ that we call the placenta. During pregnancy, this organ supplies oxygen and nutrients to your baby. In addition to blood and nutrients, the placenta also produces hormones like hCG, estrogen, and progesterone. Connected by the umbilical cord, a placenta and fetus exist in symbiosis until a baby’s delivery.

The Life Line

Threaded with three blood vessels, two arteries, and a larger vein, the umbilical cord is the feed by which blood flows between the mother and fetus. Some umbilical cords can grow to be as long as 60 centimeters, allowing babies the freedom to swim and move within the amniotic fluid. On some occasions the umbilical cord will wrap around the fetus, posing the risk of birth injury and cerebral palsy.

Origin of the Organ

In the third week of pregnancy, after an egg has been released and fertilized, the follicle it emerged from breaks down. Once collapsed, the former corpus luteum of the ovary begins to produce the hormone progesterone. By the fourth week of pregnancy, this mass of cells clusters into a proto-embryo and implants itself into the uterine wall. Some of these fertile stem cells split from the mass and burrow even deeper. While their brother and sister cells go on to form the embryo’s fingers, toes, and brain, these cells shape into a disc. Placentas are fully grown by the twelfth week of pregnancy—weighing as much as a full pound on the day of delivery.

Placental Complications

Like all aspects of fetal development, placental growth must be monitored by a responsible medical practitioner. Whether your baby is being born in the Baltimore area or New Jersey, birth injury and cerebral palsy could threaten their safety and livelihood. With ultrasound, a doctor can look for symptoms of placental complications like placental abruptions, accreta, and previa. After a baby has been delivered (through contractions or cesarean section), the placenta soon follows in an afterbirth. Doctors or midwives will inspect the placenta and its membranes, ensuring that all of it has been delivered.

Understanding the Complexity of Fetal Lung Development

During the 42 weeks of pregnancy, our babies rapidly evolve—from a pair of zygotes—to an aquatic life in the womb—and finally, one breathing in the world. Being almost a miracle in itself, the human lung forms early in fetal lung development, appearing in the embryonic phase at the fourth or fifth weeks of gestation. Branching to the left and right, they bud as two seeds would.

Phases of Development

After the passing of the embryonic phase, it is in the 17th week of the pregnancy that our two organic buds each grow a respiratory system, respectively. Capillary vessels sprout up and down, supplying the blood that will transport oxygen into the fetus’s nascent, growing brain. By the canalicular phase, there exists a clear barrier between air and blood flowing in the womb. Carbon dioxide and other gases are now able to be evacuated from respiratory capillaries in the lungs.

Saccular and Beyond

The saccular phase, at 36 weeks of pregnancy, is when the fetus’s lungs are said to be fully developed. At this final stage of fetal lung development, the lungs have begun producing surfactant—a soapy substance meant to preserve lung tissue and prevent it from damage during exhalations. As Baltimore lawyers know all too well, it is at this critical stage that a fetus is most prone to birth injury and the danger of cerebral palsy.

Prenatal Malpractice

Without an adequate production of surfactant, a fetal lung cannot be said to be mature. Doctors specializing in prenatal care are instructed to order an amniocentesis, should they suspect the potential for a premature pregnancy. If it appears that a mother and her baby will enter labor prematurely, an injection of steroids can be administered to accelerate the development of the baby’s lungs. By neglecting to act on these warnings, a doctor may be deemed guilty of prenatal malpractice.

Premature Complications

When a mother and her baby have been deprived of antenatal steroids, she and her child can face an unsafe delivery. Immature lungs ultimately result in less oxygen flowing to a newborn’s brain (called hypoxia)—manifesting as respiratory distress syndrome, transient tachypnea, or even periventricular leukomalacia. Lacking a steady supply of oxygen during pregnancy, a baby is vulnerable to birth injury and later diagnosis of cerebral palsy.

This is What It’s Really Like Caring for a Child with Cerebral Palsy

Every year, 10,000 babies are born with cerebral palsy, making it the most common neurological disorder in the nation. Cerebral palsy is a lifelong, non-progressive disorder that affects a person’s ability to control his or her movement, as well as maintain good posture and balance. According to Cerebralpalsyguide.com, because of the added strain on the body throughout the child’s life, adults use five times the amount of energy as an average person, just to walk or move about freely. A day in the life of a person growing up with cerebral palsy will be faced with increased pain, stiff muscles, slip and falls, loss of independence, fatigue, amongst many more troublesome symptoms.

Although some children are born with the genetic abnormalities associated with cerebral palsy, in some cases, children will acquire the disorder due to a birth injury. At Gershon, Willoughby, Getz & Smith, LLC, we are the choice cerebral palsy attorneys for so many because many of our attorneys are also medical doctors. Our team is skilled at “reading between the line” and interpreting complicated medical paperwork, that only an experienced doctor would understand. If, as a parent, you suspect your child has suffered a birth injury resulting in cerebral palsy, we can get you the compensation you deserve.

As this may all be new to you, this is what it’s really like caring for a child with cerebral palsy.

First and foremost, as parents, nothing can prepare you for the lifelong journey ahead of you while you raise a child with special needs. In just six short months after birth, the child will start to show the early warning signs of cerebral palsy. This might include the head lagging backward as you pick your little one up, an extremely stiff or relaxed body, or unusual posture and a favoring to one side of the body. The child won’t reach milestones typical for his or her age like crawling, talking, or walking. Instead, your child will need extra support with all of these things.

As the child starts to grow, the condition will sometimes leave him or her with an intellectual impairment, such as the need to be placed in a special program at school. In moderate to severe cases of cerebral palsy, children will experience delayed growth and development due to the muscle and limbs that have been affected. What’s more, over time speech and language disorders can develop, which can be frustrating not only for the child, but for the parent watching the baby suffer. Cerebral palsy does not go away, but the sooner disabilities are managed through physical, occupational, and speech therapy, the better chance the child has enjoying an independent and healthy adult life. This is a lifelong journey and commitment for the whole family.

As you can see, caring for a child with cerebral palsy takes a lot of heart, patience, time, and not to mention money, for something that could have been prevented at birth. If you want justice for your child, contact our lawyers for cerebral palsy today and we’ll set up a meeting to assess your case immediately.