Articles Posted in Birth Defects

New Hope for Brain Damage Recovery After Oxygen Deprivation at Birth
Around 450,000 babies are born preterm in the U.S. every year, according to the Children’s National Research Institute. Premature babies are often deprived of oxygen caused by immature lungs or irreversible birth injuries. Inadequate oxygen levels can decrease a newborn’s blood pressure, heart rate, and limiting the blood flow to vital organs and tissue. When this happens, irreversible neurological or cellular damage can occur and lead to permanent deficits and disabilities such as cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and vision and hearing loss.

Premature babies and those with brain injuries caused by birth have typically been treated with minimal handling, avoidance from stressful stimuli, including receiving care and treatments in new, quiet private family rooms. A new study led by researchers at Children’s National Hospital, published online on February 19, 2020, in “Nature Communications,” could lead to new treatments for children affected by brain damage caused by oxygen deprivation at birth. The recent study suggests that when oxygen-deprived infants are faced with opportunities for optimal brain development through an “enriched” environment, it may result in a more positive growth and healing of the brain.

What Makes for an “Enriched” Environment?

birth defects
In the U.S., about 1 in 33 babies is born with a birth defect each year, according to the March of Dimes. This makes birth defects the leading cause of infant mortality in the United States, accounting for over 20% of all related deaths.  Several factors have an impact on how a child is born with a birth defect and whether that defect could have been prevented. Critical evaluations of the biological parents’ genetics, medications mom may have been prescribed, social and environmental factors, and prenatal care and physician choices all could play a role. Not to be confused with a birth injury, not all birth defects are preventable.

  • Birth Defects: A birth defect is a health condition that is present at birth. Defects can cause serious problems in a baby’s overall health, how his body develops, and how his/her body works, according to the March of Dimes.
  • Birth Injuries: A birth injury is defined as the structural destruction or functional deterioration of the neonate’s body due to a traumatic event at birth. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “Some of these injuries are avoidable when appropriate care is available, and others are part of the delivery process that can occur even when clinicians practice extreme caution.”
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