Birth brain injuries can occur just before birth, during labor and delivery or immediately following. Some are more likely to cause disabling or life-threatening harm, such as those involving the brain. One type is anoxic brain injury, which is caused by a reduction or loss of oxygen.
Common Causes of Anoxic Brain Injury
The longer the brain is without oxygen, the more likely damage is going to be permanent. Although it is sometimes preventable, there are many circumstances where medical negligence plays a role.
The following are some of the causes of anoxic brain injury during birth:
- umbilical cord is compressed, twisted or wrapped around the baby’s neck, cutting off oxygen supply;
- difficult, prolonged labor (large baby, mother’s pelvis is small, breech position);
- placental abruption (placenta detaches from the uterus);
- meconium aspiration (baby inhales meconium stools in the amniotic fluid);
- neonatal respiratory distress syndrome (poor lung development, typically seen in premature babies); and
- preeclampsia (high blood pressure in mother).
Consequences of Anoxic Brain Injury
A lack of oxygen to the brain can result in problems that last a child’s lifetime. The degree to which difficulties exist generally depends on how long the brain was deprived and if the injuries are temporary or permanent. The longer the effects will last, the more likely a victim’s family will want to hire an Ohio medical malpractice attorney.
Examples include learning difficulties, speech problems, visual disturbances and movement disorders. The most commonly known medical condition associated with this type of brain trauma is cerebral palsy. This is a neurological disorder that impacts coordination and movement.
Reducing the Risks of Anoxic Brain Injury
In many instances, the devastating effects of an oxygen deprivation birth brain injury can be prevented. One of the biggest is recognizing signs that the brain is lacking oxygen.
This can be done through proper monitoring of the baby during labor. If there are signs of distress, measures need to be taken to correct the problem. For instance, if the cord is compressed or twisted, there will be changes in the baby’s heart rate, which may require an emergency C-section.
Another way of monitoring the baby is through the Apgar score. Immediately after birth if it shows a low score, this is a sign of oxygen deprivation. A surprising side effect of oxygen deprivation that was published in the journal Pediatrics found that infants who suffered oxygen deprivation in utero showed an increased risk of developing attention-deficit disorder (ADD).
If the lack of oxygen was caused by a condition in the mother, such as preeclampsia, there are symptoms that should be recognized. For instance, elevated blood pressure, swelling, severe headaches and abdominal pain are symptoms. A failure to diagnose and treat could result in anoxic brain trauma.
Prognosis for Anoxic Brain Trauma
The prognosis is unfortunately not very promising when there is severe damage. In extreme cases, it could result in the child being in a vegetative state or coma.
There may be some recovery from moderate brain damage. But this could require months or years of expensive treatment, such as speech or physical therapy. Special educational services may be required.
In the event the child has cerebral palsy, there may be challenges that necessitate assistance. For instance, speech problems could require electronic devices or communication boards. Or if walking is a difficulty, a wheelchair may be necessary.
The effects of birth brain injury on the child and family can be significant. The aftermath of anoxic brain injury can impact everyone financially, emotionally and physically, for which an Ohio medical malpractice attorney can file a claim.