Approximately seven of every 1,000 babies born in the U.S. suffer an injury during the birth process. While most of those injuries are relatively minor, some unfortunate infants suffer from injuries that have serious, lifelong effects.
Among the most devastating of these birth injuries are those that cause brain damage. During the birth process or soon after delivery, an infant’s brain can be injured due to oxygen deprivation, a trauma to the head, or an infection.
If your newborn has brain damage due to a birth injury and you suspect medical negligence, it’s important to seek help to understand exactly what occurred, the challenges the future might hold for you and your family, and the steps you can take to handle those challenges.
When infants are deprived of oxygen during a difficult delivery or because of complications with the umbilical cord or mother’s blood pressure, their brains can be permanently damaged, and they often die. Those who survive generally experience serious physical and mental development problems.
Head trauma during the birth process and maternal infections can also cause brain damage. Head injuries can occur due to negligence or error when procedures such as vacuum extraction or forceps delivery are done incorrectly. Maternal infections, such as herpes, syphilis, cystitis, or a yeast infection, if not treated, can also lead to problems for the infant.
Newborns who suffer from extensive brain damage will exhibit noticeable symptoms, such as organ dysfunction, seizures, and muscular weakness, shortly after birth. Other infants might exhibit signs of brain damage later on.
Signs of brain damage at later stages of development include physical abnormalities, behavioral changes, and developmental delays. Physical abnormalities might be such things as a small head, the inability to focus the eyes, or deformed facial features. Behavioral changes could include excessive crying, inability to eat, and decreased consciousness. Developmenta; delays include not growing normally and missing important development milestones.
Early diagnosis and treatment give your infant the best chance for survival and managing the effects of the damage. Since damage from oxygen deprivation can progress after birth, infants with suspected brain damage should be treated immediately. They need to be carefully monitored to control seizures, blood glucose and blood pressure levels and minimize cerebral edema. A growing body of evidence also suggests that, if begun within six hours of birth, hypothermia treatment (moderate cooling of the brain) can actually reduce the risk of death and the chances of the infant developing a long-term neurodevelopmental disorder.
There really is no effective pharmacological treatment for brain damage in newborns; however, medications can be used to help control symptoms. Your treatment plan will typically include helping your child adapt to his or her symptoms with a combination of physical, occupational, and speech therapies.
If your newborn suffered brain damage during or immediately following birth, you probably need help handling the painful reality and challenges ahead. With the support of compassionate medical professionals, family, and friends and help with finances, you may be able to face the future with hope.
If your infant’s brain was damaged because a doctor or other healthcare professional was negligent in monitoring the baby during or after birth, diagnosing a problem, or taking appropriate action, then an experienced birth injury attorney can also help you. At Malik Law, we want to hear about what happened and put our expertise in medical malpractice law to work for you.
At Malik Law, we understand the challenges you face and want you to have the financial resources you need to care for you child and hold the responsible parties accountable for their negligence.
To speak with an experienced Orlando birth injury attorney about your child’s birth injury, call us at 407.500.1000 or submit the Free Case Evaluation form on our website.
Ballot, D.E. Cooling for newborns with hypoxic ischaemic encephalopathy: RHL commentary (last revised: 1 October 2010). The WHO Reproductive Health Library; Geneva: World Health Organization. http://apps.who.int/rhl/newborn/cd003311_ballotde_com/en/
Seattle Children’s Hospital Research Foundation. (2016). Birth Asphyxia. http://www.seattlechildrens.org/medical-conditions/airway/birth-asphyxia/