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Brain Injuries to Children
A birth injury is defined as the structural destruction or functional deterioration of an infant’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.” And most of the time, birth injuries are typically indicative of a medical mistake that was likely the cause of a traumatic experience to the fetus or newborn. Here is a deeper look and explanation of the top ten most common birth injuries in the U.S.

  1. Cerebral Palsy: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data shows the average prevalence of cerebral palsy is 3.3 children per 1,000 live births. It is the most common motor and movement disability of childhood and could cause serious, long-term injuries.
  2. Facial Paralysis: Facial nerve palsy is the loss of voluntary muscle control of the face. While it can be serious, the condition often goes away over time. The injury is caused by the pressure put on the baby’s seventh cranial nerve during birth.

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?

Cerebral Palsy Remains a Leading Cause of Childhood Disabilities

types of c-palsy

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data shows the average prevalence of cerebral palsy is 3.3 children per 1,000 live births and is the most common motor and movement disability of childhood. It is defined by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) as a medical condition caused by brain damage. Cerebral palsy can cause a range of disabilities, from mild to severe, and will require a proper diagnosis so that the correct treatments and therapies are provided.

Some of the potential issues a child with cerebral palsy may face include:

mother worried about birth injuries

15 Things Parents May Not Know About Their Baby’s Birth Injury

A birth injury is defined as the structural destruction or functional deterioration of an infant’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.”

This is a list of 15 things parents may not know about preventable birth injuries.

Birth Asphyxia

3 Types of Asphyxia Related Childbirth Injuries

Some of the most traumatic injuries that arise during childbirth are those that affect the baby’s brain. Asphyxia is an irreversible event that occurs when the brain is deprived of oxygen for an extended time prenatally, intrapartum, or postnatally and results in abnormal neurologic function in a newborn. The harm can be incredibly debilitating and impact the child’s suffering for the remainder of their life.

When medical provider negligence is involved in a childbirth-related injury, it is likely due to a failure to monitor the fetus and respond to distress or diagnose a potential delivery issue. Many birth injury lawsuits have been filed because of these unfortunate labor and delivery events.

10 years ago this January, twin Sarah Butler was born at Royal Victoria Hospital in Barrie, Ontario to Jaye Butler. Her twin brother was delivered healthy and free of complications several minutes prior. To encourage speedy delivery of Sarah, nurses at the hospital stripped Jaye Butler’s membranes, causing the amniotic fluid to drain out so rapidly that Sarah was left weighing down on her own umbilical cord. The pressure on her cord caused her to lose oxygen to her brain and develop cerebral palsy. The hospital records were falsified to read that her mother’s amniotic sac had spontaneously ruptured and that Sarah was delivered via C-Section shortly thereafter.

A Coverup, The Truth, And More Denials

The Butlers were aware that something just didn’t add up. The year their twins were born, the family pressed the hospital on the circumstances surrounding Sarah’s birth injury. According to the family, the hospital admitted that nurses had pushed Sarah’s birth along by stripping Jaye’s membranes. When the family decided to file a lawsuit, the hospital reverted back to the false report they had on file and claimed that Jaye’s membranes ruptured on their own. The hospital maintained that its staff had acted according to the standard of care and that Sarah was in distress, causing an emergency C-Section. In reality, the hospital was forced to deliver Sarah via Caesarean because she was quickly losing oxygen due to compression of her umbilical cord.

After a healthy pregnancy, the parents of baby Earl Reese-Thornton, Jr. expected to leave North Shore Medical Center in Miami, Florida after the delivery of a healthy baby boy in December 2013. Instead they are facing the heartbreaking reality that all of their lives have been forever changed by a doctor’s incompetence during delivery. During the 90 minutes before Earl was finally born, Dr. Ata Atogho forced a vaginal delivery by administering pitocin (a labor inducing drug), despite the fact that his mother’s stalled labor was causing the baby distress and called for an emergency C-Section. Instead, Dr. Atogho left Earl’s mother, Marla Dixon, laboring while he delivered another baby and carried on a phone call with his investment advisor. When Earl was finally born, it was clear he had suffered brain damage from lack of oxygen and required resuscitation.

Falsifying Documents and Government Responsibility

Dr. Atogho documented in Ms. Dixon’s chart that he offered her a C-Section and that she refused. Ms. Dixon stated that Dr. Atogho had never mentioned the possibility of a C-Section and that she had even asked for one and was denied, a story which the labor and delivery nurse at Ms. Dixon’s beside corroborated.

Recent updates to guidelines issued by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Academy of Pediatrics advise physicians to conduct extensive examinations on babies born with brain injuries, or neonatal encephalopathy. According to a report on the Health Day website, the two groups have determined that, by pinpointing the causes of brain injury, physicians can prevent further complications and create new techniques for prevention. The previous recommendations were presented in 2003, directing doctors to place their focus on the possible lack of oxygen to the brain during delivery. The new guidelines are extending those recommendations to include other details of the delivery, as well as the mother’s physical condition.

Loss of oxygen is reportedly a common cause of newborn brain injury, but the causes can begin before labor even starts. According to the report, there are several possible causes for these injuries:

Metabolic Disorders

Perhaps the most serious injuries that arise during a traumatic birth are those that affect the brain. Most injuries that are purely physical are obviously damaging, but there are more and more options to treat and account for injuries of a purely physical nature. On the other hand, harm that affects and infant brain is often incredibly debilitating affecting every area of their lives and influencing their long-term capabilities.

Oxygen Deprivation at Birth

Most birth injuries affecting the brain stem from asphyxia–when the brain is deprived of oxygen for an extended period of time. Many birth injury lawsuits have been filed in just these cases, because the prolonged oxygen deprivation is often caused by failure on the part of medical teams to act in a timely manner or to properly pick up on signs of fetal distress. Medical malpractice is not implicated every time that a child suffers a birth injury affecting the brain, but in far too many cases it is actually preventable.

Last month the Washington Post published a unique story that shared the tale of one family’s struggle to figure out what plagued their son. The case is a testament to the complexity that remains in many birth injury situations.

Assumed Cerebral Palsy

The boy in the case was born prematurely. He was born six weeks earlier than planned in 1999 via Cesarean section. The mother experienced preclampsia–hypertension caused by the pregnancy. The complications led doctors to call for the emergency surgery to have the baby born immediately.

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