Brain Damage at Birth: Understanding the Causes
No matter how old you are, brain injuries are not to be taken lightly. But in the case of newborns, sustaining a brain injury during delivery can potentially impact the child’s mobility or their ability to grow and develop normally.
In many cases, brain injuries that occur during delivery are the result of oxygen deprivation. Among babies that are born at the nine-month mark, birth asphyxia occurs in about four out of every 1,000 births. In mild cases of oxygen deprivation, there’s a good chance the child will be able to make a full recovery. But even just a few minutes without oxygen can result in very serious, long-term injuries. There is no one single factor which leads to infant asphyxia. It can occur if the umbilical cord gets twisted, the placenta becomes detached too soon, or if the child gets stuck during delivery, just to name a few. Another thing which can lead to a child losing oxygen during delivery is problems with the mother’s blood pressure.
Since preeclampsia is a condition that involves dangerously high maternal blood pressure, it’s extremely important that doctors who believe their patient has preeclampsia take steps to address it right away. When blood pressure levels get too high, it can result in less blood circulating to the baby and result in brain damage, among other injuries.
Blood pressure isn’t the only health issue which can result in infant brain damage. Many types of maternal infections, including rubella, cystitis, varicella, syphilis, and herpes, have been known to result in brain injuries to the child. Not only are maternal infections linked to infant brain damage, they can also increase the risk of premature birth, placing them at an even higher risk of brain injuries. If a doctor has a patient who has an infection which could pose a problem for her unborn child, it’s very important that they carefully monitor the mother’s condition and the condition of the child and take steps to make sure the child is delivered as safely as possible.
When deliveries become complicated, the child faces a higher risk of suffering a brain injury caused by physical trauma. If a child gets stuck in the birth canal or is in the breech position, doctors might try pulling or twisting methods to adjust the child’s position before opting for a C-section. While these methods can be safe and effective when used correctly, they can result in injuries if they’re not. The same can be said for birth-assisting tools such as forceps or vacuums. The use of forceps makes it 3.4 times more likely a child will experience a brain bleed while vacuum extractors increase the likelihood by 2.7 times.
Jaundice is a very common issue in infants and if it’s treated right away, there usually aren’t any long-term issues at all. But if doctors don’t take immediate action to treat jaundice in an infant, the levels of bilirubin in the baby’s system will continue to rise and can result in conditions such as kernicterus or bilirubin encephalopathy, both of which can result in brain damage.
If your child was born with a brain injury, you’re not alone. The sad reality is that, while infant brain damage is unavoidable in some cases, it often could have been prevented. If you feel like your child’s injury could have been avoided, don’t hesitate to contact a birth trauma lawyer. Cases involving brain injuries can be extremely complicated and an attorney will be able to fully understand your situation, answer any of you questions, and help you figure out which steps you need to take next.