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An overview of jaundice in newborns

Jaundice occurs when the blood has high levels of bilirubin, a yellow substance created from the replacement of old red blood cells. In a baby, the placenta breaks down bilirubin before the liver takes over, but liver development may be slow. Therefore, it's not unusual for infants to be born with high bilirubin levels and develop jaundice. Expectant mothers in Texas may want to know more.

Jaundice will yellow a baby's skin and the whites of the eyes. This yellowing may spread to the chest, stomach area and legs. In severe cases of jaundice, babies may feed poorly and always be tired. Most babies, however, experience what is called physiological jaundice. It's most noticeable two to four days after birth, usually does no harm and goes away within a couple of weeks.

Mothers should also be aware of breastfeeding jaundice and breast milk jaundice. The first occurs within the first week after birth, and the second peaks during the second and third weeks. As with physiological jaundice, these types are normally harmless.

Diverse factors can increase the risk of jaundice. Infection or a lack of enzymes may lead to many red blood cells needing to be replaced. Premature birth, liver diseases and certain medications may also affect the removal of bilirubin.

In extreme cases, jaundice can cause brain damage in infants. Someone who believes that their baby's birth injuries were caused by the negligence of a doctor or nurse may consider filing a malpractice claim. They could ultimately be reimbursed for medical expenses both past and future as well as pain and suffering and emotional trauma. Legal counsel could help a plaintiff negotiate for a fair settlement.

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