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What is wrong with my child?

Q: My son was born almost a year back, and got infected with jaundice soon after. When tests were conducted for bilirubin, it was 35. The doctors from the medical college advised him to be taken for blood exchange transfusion, and the same was done twice on the sixth and the seventh day of his birth. After the above, the doctors informed me that there is 99% chance of him becoming handicapped / mentally retarded. At present, I am getting my son treated by a renowned homeopathic practitioner. At first sight, he appears normal regarding physical development, but he is not able to sit. Even in the walker, he keeps walking without sitting.

A:Bilirubin is a substance, which is normally produced by the breakdown of red blood cells in our body. Its production is more in the newborns whose system is often not fully developed to handle this. If too much bilirubin is produced (or not excreted), it results in jaundice. High blood levels of bilirubin (also called hyperbilirubinaemia) can damage the brain of the newborn resulting in neurologic abnormalities called bilirubin-induced neurologic dysfunction (BIND). This may occur in the first few days of life (acute) or later (chronic). The injury to the developing brain can range from mild to severe. There is no clear-cut level of bilirubin above which brain damage always occurs or a level below which it is safe and attempts to correlate its levels with degree of disability have failed. Some of the factors that may affect it include the weight of the baby at birth, its gestational age, nutritional status and the presence of co-existing disease. The usual causes of this condition in the newborn are severe destruction of red blood cells (haemolytic anaemia), birth injury, severe infection and some other metabolic disorders. Many a times no cause is discernible. The symptoms of chronic brain damage gradually present in the first few years of life as muscle weakness, delayed milestones, movement disorder, visual and hearing impairment, problems with teeth and some amount of intellectual deficit. An MRI scan may be helpful. There is no drug available that can treat the symptoms of acute or chronic bilirubin brain injury and treatment always aims to prevent it. I am not competent to comment on homeopathy, but would strongly advise you to consult a paediatric neurologist who can assess the child as neuro-developmental evaluation and care can help a lot. Early identification and appropriate intervention should be started to maximise improvement.

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