Understanding the Symptoms of Brain Damage in Newborns
Brain injuries are not to be taken lightly at any age. But if an adult were to sustain a brain injury, the symptoms they’d show would likely be different from the ones shown by a newborn with a brain injury. For example, an adult with a brain injury might seem dazed, complain of a headache, or have a hard time speaking, but since newborns aren’t able to speak yet, you have to look for other signs that something might be wrong.
Like many other types of birth injuries, brain damage can drastically range in severity, so the types of symptoms you might see can vary depending on the extent of the damage. In some situations, an infant might have physical signs of injury that are noticeable right away, like a skull fracture, low heart rate, an unusually large or small skull, the child having difficulty focusing their eyes, difficulty feeding, muscle stiffness, or weak reflexes. Seizures that begin shortly after birth is another common symptom of infant brain damage.
But not all symptoms of brain damage in newborns are obvious right away. It’s not at all uncommon for parents to not realize that their child might have a brain injury until several months or years later, when the child fails to meet a developmental milestone, has difficulty in school, or is able to say that they’re experiencing pain or discomfort. It’s important to remember that perfectly healthy children can grow and develop at different rates, so if your child seems to be having a hard time meeting a developmental milestone, you should ask your child’s pediatrician to see if there’s reason to be concerned.
In the case of a child between the ages of 12 and 24 months, they might have a hard time walking or crawling, lack coordination, have difficulty speaking, lack muscle control, or be unable to move parts of their body. They could also have a difficult time developing fine motor skills, so you might notice that they’re unable to move small objects from one hand to another or have a hard time drinking from cups or using eating utensils on their own. If a child has a brain injury that impacts their hearing or eyesight, they might do things like not turn their head after a loud noise or seeing a flash of light or lack control over their eye movements.
After the age of 2, a child with brain damage could be having a hard time with their fine motor skills. They might not have an easy time eating on their own, dressing themselves, or drawing straight lines or basic shapes. They could also be behind in their speaking abilities or have a difficult time walking or running. You might also notice that they have stiff muscles or tremors in their body. As a child gets ready to enter school, it could become more apparent that they have behavioral problems or an intellectual disability.
Cases of brain damage in children can be particularly complicated because of the fact that they often don’t become apparent until a long time after they occur. Brain injuries can occur in many different ways, but if you believe your child’s brain injury occurred in a way that could have been prevented, contact a birth trauma lawyer as soon as possible. Realizing that your child could have life-long effects because of their injury can be extremely upsetting and overwhelming. A lawyer will be able to help you find the answers you’re looking for and figure out which steps to take next.