Mother says jaundice test could have saved child from brain dama - KULR8.com | News, Weather & Sports in Billings, Montana

Mother says jaundice test could have saved child from brain damage

Posted: Updated:
BILLINGS, Mont. -

A Billings family has a story to tell about how a very common condition in newborns had a very uncommon lasting impact on their little one.

Kara Smalls is a bright 3-year-old girl who has a rare form of brain damage known as kernicterus. It's the result of untreated jaundice at birth that deposited high levels of a substance called bilirubin into her brain. Kara's cognitive function is not impaired. She can think and feel like a normal child, but she can no longer control her physical movements. 

Candice Smalls, Kara's mom, tells us for the rest of Kara's life, she will never be able to walk, talk, or take care of herself. She will likely be bound to adaptive walking aids and require 24-hour care and intensive medical treatment for the remainder of her life.

In medical circles, kernicterus is known as a "never event", meaning it should never happen. That's because the condition is very easily preventable. About 60% percent of babies are born with jaundice, which results in a yellow tint in a child's skin and the whites of their eyes. Usually, the condition resolves itself or can be treated by placing the baby under ultra-violet light. Kara Smalls had jaundice, but she was sent home. Without treatment, bilirubin continued to build in her blood stream until it broke the barrier of her brain and stained the area that controls her physical movements.

Now Candice wants to use her story to help other families. She says while there's nothing she can do to help Kara regain her normal function, she wants to make sure no mother ever has to experience what she went through.

If your baby is born with jaundice, ask your doctor if a bilirubin test was performed and what the results were. Candice says parents should "know your number."

For more information on kernicterus and the families who live with it, visit https://pic-k.org/

  • Most Popular

  • Regional NewsMore>>

  • ACLU seeks to ban transgender bathroom initiative in Montana

    ACLU seeks to ban transgender bathroom initiative in Montana

    Tuesday, October 17 2017 4:14 PM EDT2017-10-17 20:14:15 GMT

    HELENA, Mont. - The ACLU of Montana is challenging the constitutionality of a proposed ballot initiative that would require transgender residents to use public bathrooms that correspond with their sex at birth.

    HELENA, Mont. - The ACLU of Montana is challenging the constitutionality of a proposed ballot initiative that would require transgender residents to use public bathrooms that correspond with their sex at birth. The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in District Court in Cascade County on behalf of seven transgender Montanans, the parents of a transgender 9-year-old and the City of Missoula. 

  • PHOTOS: Semi-truck overturns and loses 56,000 pounds of apples on Blewett Pass

    PHOTOS: Semi-truck overturns and loses 56,000 pounds of apples on Blewett Pass

    Tuesday, October 17 2017 8:29 AM EDT2017-10-17 12:29:59 GMT

    BLEWETT PASS, Wash. - A semi truck overturned on Blewett Pass Monday, spilling its payload of apples on the road. WSP says 56,000 pounds of apples were dumped when the truck flipped. Traffic was slowed for hours on the pass that slices through the Cascade Mountain range.  No word yet on a cause or injuries.

    BLEWETT PASS, Wash. - A semi truck overturned on Blewett Pass Monday, spilling its payload of apples on the road. WSP says 56,000 pounds of apples were dumped when the truck flipped. Traffic was slowed for hours on the pass that slices through the Cascade Mountain range.  No word yet on a cause or injuries.

  • MLPD: Moses Lake man with warrants makes 'poor tactical decision' to run from 'officer who actually enjoys running'

    MLPD: Moses Lake man with warrants makes 'poor tactical decision' to run from 'officer who actually enjoys running'

    Friday, October 13 2017 6:01 PM EDT2017-10-13 22:01:33 GMT

    MOSES LAKE, Wash. - A Moses Lake tow truck driver is getting credit for assisting officers with arresting a felon on the run.  On Thursday afternoon, a Moses Lake Police Officer spotted 34-year-old Jeremiah Hamilton walking near Lauzier Playfields. Knowing Hamilton had felony warrants, the officer tried to stop him. 

    MOSES LAKE, Wash. - A Moses Lake tow truck driver is getting credit for assisting officers with arresting a felon on the run.  On Thursday afternoon, a Moses Lake Police Officer spotted 34-year-old Jeremiah Hamilton walking near Lauzier Playfields. Knowing Hamilton had felony warrants, the officer tried to stop him. 

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Huntley Project Remembers Coach Kautz

    Huntley Project Remembers Coach Kautz

    Monday, October 16 2017 8:16 PM EDT2017-10-17 00:16:24 GMT

    The town of Worden is remembering a high school basketball coach who died in a car crash.

    The town of Worden is remembering a high school basketball coach who died in a car crash.

  • Traffic violation leads to major drug bust

    Traffic violation leads to major drug bust

    Tuesday, October 17 2017 12:46 AM EDT2017-10-17 04:46:03 GMT

    A traffic violation leads to a big bust for Montana Highway Patrol. The incident occurred just outside the city limits.

    A traffic violation leads to a big bust for Montana Highway Patrol. The incident occurred just outside the city limits.

  • Montana wildlife officials say poached deer likely suffered

    Montana wildlife officials say poached deer likely suffered

    Monday, October 16 2017 4:20 PM EDT2017-10-16 20:20:21 GMT

    Wildlife officials say one or more poachers illegally shot eight mule deer in eastern Montana with a type of ammunition used for small game that likely caused the animals to suffer considerably.

    Wildlife officials say one or more poachers illegally shot eight mule deer in eastern Montana with a type of ammunition used for small game that likely caused the animals to suffer considerably.

  • Rollover crash near Lockwood kills one man

    Rollover crash near Lockwood kills one man

    Monday, October 16 2017 9:55 AM EDT2017-10-16 13:55:16 GMT

    We have new information on the rollover crash near Lockwood that took the life of one man.

    We have new information on the rollover crash near Lockwood that took the life of one man.

  • MHP traffic stop uncovers 80 pounds of marijuana

    MHP traffic stop uncovers 80 pounds of marijuana

    Monday, October 16 2017 4:27 PM EDT2017-10-16 20:27:39 GMT

    A Washington man is being held in the Yellowstone County Detention Facility following a traffic stop Thursday morning that uncovered 80 one-pound sealed bags of marijuana in his car.

    A Washington man is being held in the Yellowstone County Detention Facility following a traffic stop Thursday morning that uncovered 80 one-pound sealed bags of marijuana in his car.

  • Man arrested for bomb threat, smearing feces on hotel walls

    Man arrested for bomb threat, smearing feces on hotel walls

    Tuesday, October 17 2017 1:41 PM EDT2017-10-17 17:41:39 GMT

    A man was arrested at a Missoula hotel after he threatened to blow the place up. 43-year-old Paul Stanton faces a felony intimidation charge for threatening the hotel and employee safety after he was asked to leave. 

    A man was arrested at a Missoula hotel after he threatened to blow the place up. 43-year-old Paul Stanton faces a felony intimidation charge for threatening the hotel and employee safety after he was asked to leave. 

  • Community reacts to Dornix Park vandalism

    Community reacts to Dornix Park vandalism

    Monday, October 16 2017 8:27 PM EDT2017-10-17 00:27:11 GMT
    Investigators are working to find out who vandalized Dornix Park in big timber with grafitti and broken windows, among other things Friday night. Park-goers like mother Shar-A-Lee Widdison says she's lived in big timber her whole life and it's been years since they've had vandalism this bad. When you walk through Dornix Park you see all the beautiful nature and can hear the calm waters of the boulder river, but violence entered the park Friday night in the form of damaged grafitti-f...
    Investigators are working to find out who vandalized Dornix Park in big timber with grafitti and broken windows, among other things Friday night. Park-goers like mother Shar-A-Lee Widdison says she's lived in big timber her whole life and it's been years since they've had vandalism this bad. When you walk through Dornix Park you see all the beautiful nature and can hear the calm waters of the boulder river, but violence entered the park Friday night in the form of damaged grafitti-f...
  • Star Wars decoration wins Halloween

    Star Wars decoration wins Halloween

    Monday, October 16 2017 1:28 PM EDT2017-10-16 17:28:46 GMT

    A two-story, "Star Wars"-inspired Halloween yard display in Ohio should be enough to make any trick-or-treating Darth Vader proud.

    A two-story, "Star Wars"-inspired Halloween yard display in Ohio should be enough to make any trick-or-treating Darth Vader proud.