Kernicterus: Overview

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Modified on 2009/10/14 21:31 by admin
Kernicterus is a debilitating and potentially deadly condition that may appear in newborns. The condition typically occurs in infants suffering from jaundice. Jaundice affects the liver's ability to process bilirubin, a byproduct of red blood cell disposal. Excess bilirubin can accumulate in the brain causing Kernicterus. The condition is characterized by drowsiness, vomiting, feeding problems, neck and back spasms, rolling of the eyes, mental retardation, cerebral palsy, hearing problems, vision problems and death.

Kernicterus, largely under control until the late 1990s, has again become a public health concern. Researchers report that the condition is occurring with alarming frequency as the length of the average hospital stay for newborns continues to decrease. Many observers fault cost cutting methods employed by doctors, hospitals and insurance companies as playing a major role in the increasing incidence of Kernicterus. Aside from failing to order simple and inexpensive tests that detect jaundice, thus alerting the physician of the potential for Kernicterus, many healthcare professionals remain ignorant of the threat that jaundice poses to newborns.

In a country with medical expertise and resources second to none, there is simply no excuse for a child to suffer from Kernicterus. The crippling effects of this condition are completely preventable.

See Also

  1. Children's Health Matters: Overview
  2. Jaundice Screening
  3. Medical Malpractice & Negligent Care
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