Types of Birth Trauma & Neonatal Encephalitis

Types of Birth Trauma & Neonatal Encephalitis

by / Wednesday, 30 December 2020 / Published in Birth Trauma
Worried mother holding crying baby.

As soon as a baby is born, doctors will routinely examine the baby to evaluate its health. This exam should include screening the infant for signs of potential neonatal encephalitis. Neonatal encephalitis is any condition in which a newborn baby’s nervous system is impaired and unable to operate normally.

When babies have neonatal encephalitis, it can show through symptoms like respiratory difficulties, seizures, slow reflexes, and not seeming to be fully alert. Even though neonatal encephalitis most commonly impacts the brain and nervous system, it can also impact other organs in the body. Neonatal encephalitis can be caused by a few different things. Let’s talk about two of the most common causes of this disorder.

Herpes Simplex Virus

Throughout pregnancy, expectant mothers are routinely screened for many different things, but the herpes simplex virus (HSV) is not one of them. Unless a woman is either currently showing symptoms or have shown symptoms in the past, the American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists does not recommend routinely screening women for herpes during pregnancy.

When adults have HSV, it’s very common for them to be asymptomatic and they very often don’t even realize that they have it. If a woman is positive for HSV, but has not been symptomatic, the chances of passing it on to the baby are very low, which is why ACOG does not recommend testing all pregnant women for it. But in cases where symptoms were involved or developed during pregnancy, HSV could be transmitted to a baby and if newborns contract HSV, it can cause extremely serious complications, including neonatal encephalitis. Other complications of neonatal herpes can include seizures, fever, respiratory problems, feeding difficulties, and jaundice.

When infants have HSV, they most commonly contracted it during the delivery process. So if there’s a chance that a mother could transmit it to the baby, it’s very important for doctors to take appropriate steps to make sure the child is delivered safely.

Birth Asphyxia

A lack of oxygen during delivery is the most common cause of neonatal encephalitis, but when it’s caused by oxygen deprivation, it’s referred to as hypoxic ischemic encephaly (HIE). HIE is a type of brain injury caused by a lack of oxygen and restricted blood flow, such as complications with the umbilical cord or problems with the placenta. It can also be the result of problems like allowing prolonged labor to continue for too long, improper fetal heart monitoring, mishandling neonatal health complications, and maternal infections.

HIE is a type of brain injury that can occur over two phases: the initial loss of oxygen and the reperfusion injury that occurs when the flow of blood and oxygen is restored and it reaches the brain too quickly. In babies with HIE, it can result in problems like irregular muscle tone, seizures, respiratory difficulties, poor reflexes, and low APGAR scores.

There are options to mitigate the effects of HIE, such as therapeutic hypothermia, but it’s extremely important that doctors act quickly. The sooner action is taken, the more likely it is that the effects of HIE can be minimized.

Help With Neonatal Encephalitis Cases

Birth trauma cases can be very complex and it’s important to make sure you have someone on your side to help you through this difficult time. Contact a birth trauma lawyer to talk to someone who knows the law and has a history of successfully helping people just like you. Sometimes, signs of birth trauma can take years to show and even if your child is a few years old, it might not be too late to get help. Goodwin & Scieszka has decades of experience helping injury victims in the state of Michigan. Contact us today to find out how we can help.

Image: iStock / MangoStar_Studio

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