Newborn brain damage can result from a number of different circumstances and can manifest itself in a number of different ways. In any cases, newborn brain damage can be tragic for children and their families. It is important for families and their medical practitioners to be aware of the signs, symptoms, and causes of newborn brain damage in an effort to prevent catastrophe. In some unfortunate cases, newborn brain damage may be caused by medical malpractice before, during, or after birth. When this is suspected, families should seek an experienced birth injury lawyer as soon as possible.
Causes of Newborn Brain Damage
Due to the delicate nature of a newborn and his or her brain development, newborn brain damage can cause severe consequences from relatively minor causes. Common causes of brain damage can include oxygen deprivation, head trauma, and infections. Newborn brain damage may also occur from uncontrollable stimuli, such as genetic mutations.
Oxygen deprivation, also called birth asphyxia or perinatal asphyxia, is estimated to affect roughly one of every 250 to 500 births. Premature infants have shown indication of being more likely to experience oxygen deprivation. Oxygen deprivation is severe, and if the condition is not treated and remedied immediately, infants can face lifelong brain damage as a result.
Head trauma and other types of physical trauma are most common during the birth process. This is especially true for premature babies. In some unfortunate cases, head trauma occurs from medical malpractice, in situations that could have been prevented. For example, births that require assistance delivering the baby such as vacuum extraction or forceps may cause newborn brain damage if performed improperly.
Infections that affect both the mother and fetus can lead to newborn brain damage. Untreated sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in the mother such as herpes and syphilis can lead to brain damage of the infant. Other types of potentially harmful maternal infections may include cystitis, yeast infections, and pyelonephritis.
Signs and Symptoms
Newborn brain damage symptoms will depend on the nature, scope, and cause of the brain damage. In some cases, immediate signs of brain damage will be apparent. However, some cases may not become easily diagnosable until later stages, possibly when infants or children fail to reach developmental milestones.
Symptoms of newborn brain damage may include, but are not limited to:
- Changes in temperament, such as excessive crying, refusing nourishment, or extreme fussiness
- Physical abnormalities, such as smaller skulls, difficulty focusing the eyes, deformed facial features, or abnormal coloration
- Developmental delays, such as failure to crawl, smile, or walk at the appropriate age in comparison to other children
Newborn Brain Damage Treatment
Determining the best course of treatment will depend on the type and scope of the newborn brain damage. More mild cases may be treated with occupational and physical therapy, as well as medication. More severe cases such as those caused by traumatic brain injury may require surgery to decrease pressure and inflammation within the infant’s head. Surgery may also be used to repair damaged blood vessels.
New studies show that a special treatment called hypothermia treatment may help to reduce long-term brain damage in newborns who experienced oxygen deprivation or other causes of brain trauma. Hypothermia treatment involves keeping the newborn’s body temperature around roughly 91 degrees Fahrenheit for a few days after birth. Researchers believe that this helps to prevent a series of processes that can lead to brain damage and the death of brain cells.
Newborn Brain Damage Lawyer
Families who believe that their newborn’s brain damage may have been caused by medical malpractice should speak with an experienced birth injury attorney as soon as possible. These cases are extremely time-sensitive and rely heavily on finding the right type of conclusive evidence. The more time that passes from the incident, the more difficult it is to recover the proper evidence to prove medical malpractice in the legal system. An experience birth injury lawyer can help to determine the validity of a case and guide families through the legal process.
“Brain Injury in Children.” Children and Brain Injury. Brain Injury Association of America. Web. 4 Feb. 2015. <http://www.biausa.org/brain-injury-children.htm>.
Cronan, Kate. “Head Injuries.” KidsHealth. The Nemours Foundation, 1 Jan. 2011. Web. 28 Jan. 2015. <http://kidshealth.org/parent/firstaid_safe/emergencies/head_injury.html>
“Perinatal Asphyxia.” Perinatal Asphyxia. John’s Hopkins Children’s Center. Web. 4 Feb. 2015. <http://www.hopkinschildrens.org/perinatal-asphyxia.aspx>.