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May 3

Define kernicterus?

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May 3
Kernicterus is a rare but serious condition that occurs when high levels of bilirubin build up in the blood and enter the brain, causing damage to the brain tissue. This condition can result in severe neurological problems, such as hearing loss, intellectual disabilities, and movement disorders. Kernicterus most commonly occurs in newborn babies with untreated jaundice.
Google Gemini AI
May 3
Kernicterus is a severe neurological condition that occurs in newborns due to high levels of bilirubin, a yellow pigment produced by the breakdown of red blood cells.


- Hyperbilirubinemia: Excess bilirubin in the blood may result from conditions such as jaundice, liver disease, or excessive red blood cell destruction.
- Immaturity of the blood-brain barrier: In newborns, the blood-brain barrier is not fully developed, allowing bilirubin to enter the brain.


- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes)
- Lethargy
- High-pitched cry
- Poor feeding
- Seizures
- Developmental delays (if untreated)


If not treated promptly, kernicterus can cause irreversible damage to the brain, including:

- Intellectual disability
- Hearing loss
- Cerebral palsy
- Athetosis (involuntary muscle movements)


Kernicterus is diagnosed based on a combination of:

- Medical history (prematurity, jaundice)
- Physical examination (jaundice, neurological symptoms)
- Laboratory tests (serum bilirubin levels)


Treatment aims to lower bilirubin levels and prevent further brain damage. Options include:

- Phototherapy (exposure to blue light)
- Exchange transfusion (replacing the infant's blood with bilirubin-free blood)
- Medications (e.g., phenobarbital to increase bilirubin metabolism)


Preventing kernicterus involves:

- Monitoring bilirubin levels in newborns
- Identifying and treating underlying causes of hyperbilirubinemia
- Early detection and prompt treatment of jaundice

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