Birth Injuries: Infant Brain Damage

infant brain damage

There is no doubt that the brain is the most important organ in the human body. Our brains are responsible for our ability to learn, speak, reason, and even control our muscle movements. The brain is one of the most delicate organs in the body and even though it is housed inside a skull, it is quite vulnerable to injury – especially during childbirth. Every year hundreds of babies suffer some degree of brain damage as a result of trauma during childbirth. Out of every 1,000 babies born full-term in the U.S., three of them will suffer from some type of infant brain damage. The most common cause of brain injuries at birth is being deprived of oxygen during the birthing process, known as asphyxiation.

Birth injuries involving brain damage are the most serious type of birth injury; they can also lead to lifelong challenges. If your infant sustained brain damage because of negligent care during your pregnancy or childbirth, contact an experienced local birth injury lawyer today to discuss your legal rights.

Common birth injuries that lead to infant brain damage

According to the birth injury center, there are several common birth injuries involving brain damage:

Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy (“HIE”) or perinatal asphyxia is a permanent injury to the brain caused by a lack of adequate blood and oxygen during the birth process. HIE is responsible for 23% of all neonatal deaths around the world. Due to limited treatment options, between 40-60% of babies affected by HIE will either die or develop major mental disabilities as a result of the diagnosis.

Infant brain bleeds are either classified as a hemorrhage or hematoma. Infant brain bleeding occurs when the system for circulating blood to the brain is damaged. A brain hemorrhage is when the brain bleeds internally. A brain hematoma is a collection or pooling of blood outside of the blood vessels around the brain.

Periventricular Leukomalacia (PVL) is a type of brain injury that occurs in premature infants. In infants with PVL, the “white matter” around the brain ventricles becomes damaged and decays. This condition often causes cerebral palsy and epilepsy, and other developmental delays. PVL is believed to be primarily caused by reduced oxygen and blood circulation to the developing brain of the fetus during pregnancy.

Hydrocephalus is a severe type of brain injury that happens when cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) floods into the ventricle cavities of the brain. Hydrocephalus most commonly occurs when the newborn infant’s head endured external trauma from excessive pressure or force during childbirth.

Caput succedaneum is a medical condition that causes an infant’s head and scalp to swell. Caput succedaneum is caused by compression, either as the infant passes naturally through the birth canal or because of external pressure such as the use of obstetrical forceps or vacuum extractors to move a baby through the birth canal. While caput succedaneum isn’t classified as a brain injury, it increases the risks of certain other health conditions such as infant jaundice and can lead to brain damage if the swelling does not resolve on its own.

Kernicterus is a very serious type of infant brain damage that can result from a failure to diagnose and treat infant jaundice after birth. Even severe cases of infant jaundice can be treated effectively, but if they are not and kernicterus develops, the damage to the brain is irreversible.

Causes of infant brain injuries

There are many causes of infant brain injuries and brain damage during pregnancy and childbirth, including:

  • Oxygen deprivation
  • Umbilical cord problems
  • Maternal health conditions such as low blood pressure
  • Traumatic delivery
  • Maternal infections that are not diagnosed and treated appropriately

The Seattle Personal Injury Attorneys You Want on Your Side

The personal injury attorneys at Tinker Law Firm have been winning birth injury, medical malpractice, and personal injury cases for individuals and their loved ones in Seattle and across Washington State since 1974. We seek justice for injury victims who have been harmed by preventable medical errors, and the negligent or abusive actions of another. Our clients pay no fees or expenses to file a personal injury claim; our firm advances out-of-pocket expenses and is only reimbursed when we recover a settlement on your behalf. Do not delay; personal injury claims in Washington State have a statute of limitations, which means they must be filed within a certain time from the date of the injury.

Call us now at 206-842-1000 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation with one of our skilled and experienced injury attorneys.