Brain damage during the childbirth process has been associated with many different serious disorders that can cause lifelong difficulties for the child in question. Common disorders resulting from brain injuries at birth include:
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Cerebral palsy
- Vision impairments
- Other physical or cognitive impairments
- Organ damage
It is important for parents to be educated on potential brain injuries caused at birth not only to try to prevent them, but also to identify if their child may have suffered a brain injury. The following are common ways brain injuries can occur at birth.
Physical trauma — Labor and delivery can be inherently stressful on both the child and the mother. Medical professionals are expected to know how to properly oversee and guide a birth in order to prevent physical trauma to the infant as he or she is being born. However, there are many mistakes that doctors can make that may cause trauma to the child’s head and result in brain damage. For example, excessive pulling or twisting during labor can result in physical trauma, as can allowing the baby’s head to repeatedly knock against the mother’s pelvic bone. Additionally, mistakes using vacuums, forceps, or other tools to assist in delivery can result in brain injuries.
Asphyxia (oxygen deprivation) — Like anyone else, babies need oxygen to properly function and even a couple of minutes with partial or complete oxygen deprivation can lead to permanent brain damage. Asphyxia can occur in a number of ways, including the following:
- Problems with the umbilical cord
- Separation of the placenta from the uterus at too early a stage
- Issues with the blood pressure of the mother
- Infants getting caught in the birth canal
- Constricted airways
- Anemia in the infant at birth
These problems can be avoided if the medical professional properly identifies and treats any type of distress in the fetus in a timely fashion.
Conditions of the mother — If a medical professional does not properly identify certain infections or other conditions in a mother, the infections can result in brain damage to the child. Such infections may include syphilis, herpes, rubella, preeclampsia, cystitis, yeast infections, and more. Infections also have the risk of causing more health issues in infants in addition to brain damage, including epilepsy or schizophrenia.
Jaundice — Jaundice is a relatively common condition in newborn infants that does not cause permanent issues if treated in a timely manner. However, if medical professionals fail to treat jaundice immediately, it could result in conditions called kernicterus or acute bilirubin encephalopathy, which are both serious forms of brain damage.
Infant brain damage can have a permanent effect on your child’s life and can cause severe challenges both for you and the child from the very start of their lives. If brain damage is caused by the negligence or malpractice of a medical professional, that professional should be held responsible.