Hemochromatosis Lawyers for Children and Infants in New Jersey
Hemochromatosis is a relatively rare genetic disease that causes iron build-up when the intestines poorly regulate iron absorption, leaving deposits in the joints and organs, and damaging or destroying the heart, liver, and pancreas. How do you know if your child has it? While newborns commonly develop jaundice, a condition marked by yellow skin and eyes, for many reasons, one of the potential causes is this rare disorder. Unfortunately, hemochromatosis symptoms may not manifest for a decade or more after birth, further complicating the diagnostic process and often resulting in delayed treatment for this serious medical issue. Other conditions that suggest your child may have hemochromatosis include diabetes and irregular heartbeat, among others. If left untreated, the disease can be harmful, and even deadly, necessitating prompt diagnosis and treatment to prevent further complications.
If your child’s pediatrician or another doctor failed to diagnose, was delayed diagnosing, or failed to treat hemochromatosis, you have the right to pursue justice and compensation if your baby or child suffered health consequences as a result. Our pediatric malpractice lawyers have extensive experience representing children and babies who have been victims of medical negligence in New Jersey, and we are here for you. Contact us at 866-708-8617 to discuss your child’s case or request a free consultation online today. Our legal team is available to answer your questions, advise you of your options, and assist you with personalized guidance and zealous representation if your child has grounds for a lawsuit.
Understanding Juvenile and Neonatal Hemochromatosis
One of a group of rare iron disorders, juvenile hemochromatosis shares characteristic symptoms with other forms of hemochromatosis; African iron overload disease; and neonatal hemochromatosis, which are either inherited or a byproduct of other causes and conditions, commonly liver disease, blood transfusions, and anemia. Juvenile hemochromatosis typically presents in the first ten to thirty years of life and is usually more severe than general hemochromatosis. On the other hand, neonatal hemochromatosis is caused by liver disease and damage that is sometimes severe enough to cause stillborn babies and premature births, or liver failure at birth. When it occurs in newborns, the condition generally presents signs and symptoms in the first 48 hours of life.
The signs and symptoms, presentation, and causes of hemochromatosis are distinct among types and individual sufferers when the condition affects babies and children. In cases of neonatal hemochromatosis, the exact cause is unknown. However, researchers believe that the mother’s antibodies (gestational alloimmune liver disease) cross the placenta, recognizing the fetus as an intruder, and therefore attack the fetus’ liver. When this occurs, it may cause the fetus to die of liver disease, to develop slower than normal, or to be born prematurely. Neonatal hemochromatosis is not a genetic disorder, meaning directly inherited from the parents, although it tends to run in families. Liver disease symptoms manifest within the first days or weeks of life as low blood sugar, abnormal blood clotting, jaundice, low urine output, edema (water retention), excess iron in the other organs of the body, and often liver cirrhosis or liver failure.
Cases of juvenile hemochromatosis are often caused by mutations that occur in two genes: HAMP and HJV. The vast majority of juvenile hemochromatosis cases are caused by HJV mutations. For both of these genetic mutations, the genes are inherited as autosomal recessive traits. Genetic diseases in general occur as a result of the combined pair of chromosomes inherited from the child’s mother and father. Those with juvenile hemochromatosis often suffer from joint pain, gluten intolerance, fatigue, weight loss, skin discoloration, stomach pain, hair loss, heart fluttering, brain fog, and hypogonadotropic hypogonadism, a condition that leaves sex organs underdeveloped. Some children and adolescents do not experience symptoms until the disease has done significant damage in the form of cirrhosis of the liver, diabetes, arthritis, erectile dysfunction, and irregular heartbeat. If left undiagnosed too long, hypogonadism may lead to osteoporosis, a bone thinning disease that causes bones to fracture easily. Tragically, some children with hemochromatosis die of heart disease.
How is Hemochromatosis Diagnosed in Babies and Children?
Since the disease mimics other conditions or may be present for some time with no symptoms, diagnosis can be difficult. For example, neonatal hemochromatosis may appear like hepatitis, liver inflammation, or a metabolic disorder affecting the liver. However, if detected early and treated, survival chances improve, and the likelihood of secondary conditions and permanent organ damage lessens with both juvenile and neonatal hemochromatosis. Doctors may diagnose the disease by first examining patient family history, followed by a physical examination, listening to the heart, and examining various body parts. If suspected, a doctor may order testing by transferrin saturation and serum ferritin that detect proteins carrying and storing iron in the blood. Other tests to check for the hemochromatosis gene, an MRI to scan the organs, liver biopsies to check for damage, and genetic testing, all may confirm a suspected diagnosis of the disease.
Early warning signs of the hemochromatosis include anemia-like symptoms, such as fatigue and lack of appetite for those under ten years old, and impotence or lack of menstruation to suggest hypogonadotropic hypogonadism in adolescents or young adults. Serum tests detect liver disease, irregular heartbeats signal cardiomyopathy (heartbeat irregularity), and painful joints and skin discoloration also suggest possible hemochromatosis. All of these signs may appear before the affected individual reaches 30 years of age. Moreover, heart disease is an early indicator of the condition. As such, a thorough examination for the detection of these various conditions can lead physicians to the iron accumulation causing, or co-existing with, these other conditions.
What if a Child’s Hemochromatosis Diagnosis or Treatment is Delayed?
Accurate diagnosis and timely treatment for newborns and children with hemochromatosis is imperative to prevent serious complications, liver damage, and even death. Once the condition is diagnosed in a juvenile or infant, treatment is individual and based on the symptoms unique to each person. For instance, treatment often consists of phlebotomy, which is removing blood, two to three times a week at first over two to three years to lower the iron levels in the bloodstream. Once stabilized, the frequency of blood removal reduces to approximately six times per year. Chelation (chemical dissolving of iron-carrying blood cells) may be recommended for those with anemia or cardiac arrest. Collateral conditions are treated with hormone therapy for the hypogonadism, pain reliever for arthritis, medication for diabetes and gluten intolerance, and a cardiologist prescribing angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors for heartbeat irregularities, just as these conditions would be treated ordinarily. Also, liver cirrhosis is treated with blood pressure-lowering medications, or if untreatable, liver transplant. For neonates, blood transfusion, liver transplants, and drug therapy with antioxidants have all been used with varying degrees of success.
In addition to the health consequences of undiagnosed, misdiagnosed, or untreated hemochromatosis, this may be considered medical negligence, meaning your child may be entitled to financial damages. Pregnant women with hemochromatosis history may be treated with intravenous immunoglobin or donated antibodies to prevent neonatal hemochromatosis, prompting the need for extensive testing and diagnosis during pregnancy if and whenever possible. Failure to test for genetic conditions, inform the parents of a genetic disorder, and manage the condition with recommended medical interventions may constitute wrongful birth.
Was Your Child Injured by Hemochromatosis Errors in NJ? Contact Us
If you suspect your child is a victim of delayed or incorrect diagnosis of hemochromatosis in New Jersey, our highly skilled pediatric malpractice attorneys can help. Perhaps your baby suffered hemochromatosis-related injuries, your pediatrician failed to correctly identify the source of your child’s illness, or this dangerous disease was allowed to progress undetected, ultimately causing serious complications. Regardless of the circumstances of your individual infant or juvenile hemochromatosis case, our lawyers have the knowledge and experience to thoroughly investigate and pursue your medical negligence claim.
Diagnostic and treatment errors are among the most common sources of pediatric malpractice and wrongful birth claims in New Jersey, and we have successfully handled numerous lawsuits on behalf of children and newborns who suffer harm as a result of these serious mistakes. For more information, simply call 866-708-8617 now. Our team will help you find out if a malpractice lawsuit is an option for you and your family. If so, we will seek maximum compensation to recover damages for your your child’s past and future treatment costs, medical and educational needs, and pain and suffering.