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Acute Bilirubin Encephalopathy: Complications of Untreated Jaundice


Don't wait to contact The Becker Law Firm if you believe that complications of untreated jaundice caused serious harm to your child. An attorney will evaluate the details of the situation and determine if a doctor or other healthcare provider may be held liable. You may be entitled to compensation through a medical malpractice claim.

When jaundice is not treated immediately or properly, it can progress to a dangerous condition called acute bilirubin encephalopathy (ABE). The elevated levels of bilirubin, which is responsible for the yellowing of the skin in jaundice, move from the baby’s bloodstream to the brain.

This may be a precursor to a medical condition called kernicterus, or chronic bilirubin encephalopathy (CBE), which may be present if acute bilirubin encephalopathy is not reduced and causes permanent damage to the patient’s brain. Treating acute bilirubin encephalopathy may help prevent kernicterus.

Doctors and other healthcare professionals should be able to recognize signs that jaundice is present and/or worsening symptoms, which may indicate acute bilirubin encephalopathy.

Symptoms of acute bilirubin encephalopathy may include:

  • vomiting;
  • lethargy;
  • fever;
  • poor feeding/sucking;
  • high-pitched cries;
  • arching backward (especially neck and head).

Treatment can range from phototherapy to more invasive measures such as a blood transfusion. It is vital that medical attention be given immediately, and every effort is made to prevent permanent brain damage.

Newborn baby jaundice is generally not a serious condition and may not require any type of medical treatment. But when it progresses, isn’t detected, or is left untreated, there can be devastating consequences. If a healthcare professional did not properly follow a standard of care expected of other, reasonable professionals in similar situations, it may constitute negligence.

Seeking Help from an Attorney

If you believe negligence caused your child to suffer injuries, contact a lawyer at The Becker Law Firm to learn if you have a viable medical malpractice claim. Our firm can help you learn if medical negligence was the cause of your child’s injuries. To schedule your free initial consultation, call us at (440) 252-4399.

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