Study shows cerebral palsy rare when babies treated for jaundice

Newborns are so tiny and innocent. They are also susceptible to a range of birth injury complications and diseases because of their fragile bodies and immune systems. One possible complication facing newborns is jaundice. Jaundice can have several implications; however, a new study reports that the risk of brain damage due to jaundice is rare when treated correctly.

The study was conducted by researchers from the University of California, San Francisco and the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Division of Research. They studied more than 100,000 infants born between 1995 and 2011. The study included one group of 1,900 infants that suffered from high levels of a pigment called bilirubin, which is associated with jaundice. Jaundice is a condition that occurs when the liver produces bilirubin at such a fast rate that the infant's tiny body cannot process it in a healthy manner.

The condition is commonly characterized by yellowing of the skin or eyes. Medical professionals once believed that jaundice in infants was a common cause of brain injury resulting in a serious type of cerebral palsy. However, the study concluded that jaundice alone isn't enough to be a catalyst for the specific type of cerebral palsy, called kernicterus. Researchers now believe that there must be other risk factors at play for jaundice to be a risk factor for kernicterus.

Keep in mind, the study concluded that the infant suffering from jaundice must be treated a certain way. These care recommendations and regulations are set forth by the American Academy of Pediatrics. If followed, the study concluded that jaundice alone is not a risk factor for kernicterus. Babies in San Bernardino and everywhere else can breathe a sigh of relief.

Source: U.S. News & World Report, "Brain Damage Rare When Newborn Jaundice is Treated, Study Finds," Jan. 5, 2015, Mary Elizabeth Dallas

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