Life Altering Consequences of Birth-Related Brain Injuries
Thousands of infants suffer brain injuries during the birth process each year in the United States. Birth-related brain injuries are classified as mild to moderate to severe, according to the Mayo Clinic. The stark reality is that nearly all birth-related brain injuries, no matter the severity, could have been avoided. This type of brain injury is the result of medical negligence or medical malpractice in nearly every situation.
Due to the fact that the consequences of birth-related brain injuries can be profound and utterly life-altering, not only are medical matters at stake. Vital legal interests must be protected following a birth-related brain injury.
Frequent Causes of Birth-Related Brain Injury
There are some prevalent and yet understandable misconceptions about the underlying causes of birth-related brain injury. If people were polled about what they believe to be the most common cause of injury to an infant during childbirth, the likely response would be reference to some type of trauma.
Trauma is the cause of childbirth related brain injury in many cases. However, more brain injuries sustained to babies during the labor, delivery, and birth process are the result of oxygen deprivation for one reason or another.
Traumatic childbirth brain injuries typically arise from one of two different instruments used during the delivery process. These are forceps and a vacuum device. Used improperly, these instruments can and do cause traumatic brain injury in a newborn.
Birth-related oxygen deprivation with the potential of resulting in brain injury occurs at an alarming rate in the United States. Oxygen deprivation occurs in an estimated four out of every 1,000 full term births, according to the American Journal of Neuroradiology. Birth-related oxygen deprivation is also known as birth asphyxia.
Birth asphyxia or birth-related oxygen deprivation is classified in two ways:
- Anoxia occurs when an infant completely is deprived of oxygen. This can and oftentimes does lead to severe brain injury with lifelong consequences.
- Hypoxia occurs when an infant is deprived of an adequate amount of oxygen. This scenario can result in mild to moderate brain injury in most situations. Having said that, if hypoxia continues for a more extended period of time, the result injury or injuries can be more serious.
Oxygen deprivation or asphyxia birth injuries tend to occur as a result of one of four different reasons:
- Blocked airway. This most commonly occurs when mucus becomes lodged in an infant’s lungs, resulting in a construction of airways. Airflow can become dangerously limited in this type of situation.
- Umbilical cord problems. Umbilical cord issues represent a major reason why oxygen deprivation occurs during the labor, delivery, and birth process. An umbilical cord can become knotted, twisted, or prolapsed, cutting off oxygen to a baby. Moreover, an umbilical cord can end up wrapped and constricted around a baby’s neck.
- Birth canal issues. A baby can end up lodged in a mother’s birth canal, a state of affairs that can result in oxygen deprivation. This is most apt to happen of a mother is experiencing a particularly difficult labor.
- Placental abruption. The fourth most common cause of oxygen deprivation during the labor, delivery, and birth process involves a situation in which the placental and uterus separate too rapidly. When this occurs, an infant can end up deprived of a proper amount of oxygen.
There exists a common factor these four prevalent causes of asphyxia during the birth process have in common. There are warning signs that any one of these scenarios is about to develop. With proper monitoring of a mother and baby during the birth process, a medical team is alerted to a potential problem and can take suitable action to significantly lower the risk of injury to the infant.
Degrees of Birth-Related Birth Injuries
As mentioned a moment ago, childbirth-related brain injuries are classified as mild, moderate, or severe. Understanding the nature of the severity of brain injuries suffered by a child during labor, delivery, and birth underpins an understanding of the real-life consequences of this harm.
Mild Birth-Related Brain Injuries
A mild birth-related brain injury can result in bleeding on the brain or fractures. In the case of a mild case, these types of brain injuries nearly always resolve and do so within a relatively short period of time with proper care and treatment.
Moderate Birth-Related Brain Injuries
A moderate birth-related brain injury can result in lack of oxygen, more severe bleeding on the brain, and more serious factures. Recovery is possible is not likely. With that said, the recovery period is longer than is the case for a mild brain injury. The success of recovery requires prompt identification of the injury or injuries and appropriate medical treatment initiated in a timely manner.
Severe Birth-Related Brain Injuries
Severe birth-related injuries can have lifelong consequences. A baby can become permanently disabled in a variety of different ways as the result of severe birth-related brain injury. The objective in this type of situation is to contain the resulting damage, which requires prompt, appropriate medical intervention.
Diagnosing Birth-Related Brain Damage
An important fact associated with birth-related brain damage is that this type of injury may not be immediately identified or diagnosed. The consequences of extremely severe brain injury arising as a result of the birth process will be recognized immediately. However, the consequences of even serious forms of birth injury sustained at and around the time of birth may not be recognized for some time.
Proper medical treatment of a brain injury arising from the birth process, and a protecting of a child’s vital legal interests, depends upon a timely diagnosis of this type of damage. With this in mind, there are certain symptoms and signs of brain injury that exhibit with a child at one or another of three different developmental stages.
Symptoms and Signs of Brain Injury while a Baby
Signs of possible brain injury in a baby include:
- Abnormally shaped forehead
- Abnormally overall shaped head
- Abnormally shaped spine
- Neck stiffness
Symptoms and Signs of Brain Injury while a Toddler
Symptoms of potential brain injury in a toddler include:
- Speech impairment
- Vision impairment
- Muscle spasticity (spasms)
- Lack of proper motor coordination
Symptoms and Signs of Brain Injury while a Younger Child
Signs of potential brain injury in a younger child include:
- Persistent headaches
- Memory problems
- Muscular weakness on one side of body
- Dazed look
- Slurred speech
- Extreme mood swings
Compensation for Losses Associated with Birth-Related Brain Damage
Justice is elusive in a case involving a birth-related brain injury. The closest an injured person can come to justice is ensuring appropriate compensation for injuries, losses, and damages.
Compensation in a birth-related brain injury case depends on the facts and circumstances surrounding the birth as well as the nature and extent of injuries sustained by the baby. With that said, examples of compensation in a birth-related brain injury case include:
- Medical bills and expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish and emotional distress
- Lost opportunities
- Permanent disability
- Permanent disfigurement
- Other losses depending on the facts of a case
Protecting Legal Rights Following Birth-Related Brain Injury
Protecting legal rights in the aftermath of a birth-related brain injury necessitates proactive professional assistance of a skilled, experienced, tenacious medical malpractice lawyer like a member of the legal team at Brain Injury Attorneys. An initial consultation and case evaluation can be scheduled with a committed and caring medical malpractice attorney by calling 800-337-7436. There is no cost for an initial consultation.