Articles Posted in Reports & Studies

Researchers at Harvard Medical School recently released a paper in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology that found the average birth weight in American newborns has dropped by two ounces. The study looked at babies born between 1990 and 2005 and noted that this was the first decline in average birth weight since the 1950s. Additionally, the study found a decrease in the number of large babies born. This is seen as a positive because it leads to fewer instances of birth trauma. A decrease in the number of babies born over the 90th percentile also reduces the occurrence of serious birth injuries that can lead to lifelong health conditions, such as cerebral palsy. Follow the link to read more about this birth weight study.

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has just announced that it will be launching a new research program called the Medication Exposure in Pregnancy Risk Evaluation Program to study the effects of prescription drugs taken during pregnancy. The program is a collaborative effort between the FDA and researchers at the HMO Research Network Center for Education and Research in Therapeutics (CERT), Kaiser Permanente, and Vanderbilt University.

According to a new study, most mothers have taken at least one prescription drug during pregnancy, yet little is known about the actual risks of taking such drugs, such as the development of birth defects, because clinical research regarding drug safety during pregnancy is scant. This new program should provide the answers that doctors need for prescribing medications and allow expectant mothers to make informed decisions regarding the health of themselves and their babies.

Read more about the details of this new study at injuryboard.com.

A new study in the January issue of Radiology found that an ultrasound can now be used to detect a posterior shoulder dislocation in infants 3 to 6 months old with a permanent brachial plexus birth injury (BPBI). A doctor from Finland performed ultrasonography to screen for posterior shoulder subluxation in 132 infants with brachial plexus at various times. Their research showed that posterior shoulder subluxation of the humeral head developed in one-third of the 27 patients with permanent BPBI that failed to heal in the first year. It was detected by ultrasound in 55 percent of patients at 3 months of age and in 89 percent of patients at 6 months of age. The ultrasound has proved to be a useful tool for diagnosis of a birth injury. It should be performed on the glenohumeral joint at age 3 and 6 months of age if the symptoms persist. To learn more about the ultrasound therapy, please click the link.

A research team at Wayne State University is convinced that the big solution to preventing and treating cerebral palsy may come in a small package. The husband-and-wife team consisting of chemical engineering professor, Rangaramanujam Kannan and assistant pediatrics professor Dr. Sujatha Kannan, has received a patent for using tiny polymers to attack what it considers to be the root of the disorder: inflammation in the brain.

Cerebral palsy is a condition made up of a group of motor disorders caused by brain damage that often occurs after suffering from a birth injury or an infection that develops while in the womb. Prevention of the condition has thus far proven to be very difficult because it is generally diagnosed only after the damage has already occurred.

The research team has developed tiny tree-shaped polymers called dendrimers, which range from 5-10 nanometers long (over 700 times smaller than a human red blood cell), that are used to carry medicine directly to inflamed areas in the brain. The team believes that this method, in conjunction with the identification and diagnosis of the neuroinflammation in newborns, could prevent, or at least reduce, the development of cerebral palsy. Dr. Kannan is currently able to detect such inflammation in the brains of newborn rabbits and she believes that doctors might eventually be able to do the same in human newborns. Once detected, the dendrimers could then be used to target the inflammation, which in turn could prevent the condition from developing.

In a recent study conducted by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the cases of child birth injuries are decreasing due to some medical breakthroughs and improvements on the healthcare system. The agency recently released data from 1,000 hospitals across the US and found that more than 157,000 child birth injuries could have prevented. The most common of the preventable birth injuries was the tearing between the vagina and rectum. This process is not complicated; however, some doctors had failed to fix it perfectly so that it caused complications. The study also revealed that instruments such as forceps put mothers at higher risk of vaginal tears. Also, mothers from wealthy households were 44 percent more likely to have vaginal injuries compared to those from low-income families. This is due to the increase in premature births in low-income families. The study also showed that certain factors can determine the likelihood of injuries in child birth. White babies are more vulnerable to injuries compared to ethnic groups such as African-American and Hispanic. Also male infants are more vulnerable to birth injuries than female babies. The government data showed that the most common injury among babies is a clavicle fracture. Also babies can dislocate their hips or break their thigh bone when their leg is twisted during deliveries. In some deliveries, brachial plexus, which is a group of nerves located from the neck and arm, may be injured. This happens when the baby’s head and arm is pulled in two opposite directions. To read more about the birth injury study, please click the link.

Birth injuries have become so common that about 10 out of every 1000 births have some injury. Common birth injuries include bruising, head swelling, facial paralysis, brachial palsy fractured bones and brain injuries. Most of these birth injuries are caused by medical malpractice and negligence. Birth injuries may not be apparent immediately after birth. To read more click here “birth injury

Before birth, a baby’s lungs are filled with fluid and very little oxygen flows through them. Instead, it receives oxygen through the placenta and umbilical cord. When an infant is born, a burst of oxygen-rich blood is delivered to him or her by a pulsation of the placenta and umbilical cord until its lungs are working and supplying oxygen on their own. This surge of blood is necessary in order for the newborn’s lungs to adequately expand and supply the brain with the oxygen it needs. Without it, the baby’s lungs fail to function adequately, causing his or her blood pressure to drop. This in turn can lead to oxygen deprivation and result in lung and brain damage.

In as little as 5 minutes after birth, the umbilical cord naturally begins to clamp, halting this blood flow. The common practice of hospitals, however, is to immediately place a clamp on the cord, usually within 1 minute, and often within 30 seconds, following the baby’s birth. This deprives the baby of a continuous source of oxygen until the lungs begin functioning properly. In addition to injuring the baby’s lungs, this lack of oxygen can cause serious brain damage, leading to birth injuries such as cerebral palsy, autism, learning disorders and mental deficiency.

Click here for information about a study into the dangers of premature cord clamping and for more information about umbilical cord clamping birth injuries.

A doctor recently unveiled medical software that may predict the probability of shoulder dystocia during birth. Shoulder dystocia is one of the most common complications during delivery and 20% of cases result in birth injury. Although some doctors believe that shoulder dystocia is both “unpredictable and unpreventable,” users of the new software hope to calculate the risk of this birth injury through algorithms based on data from the mother and baby. Read more about this new software that may predict shoulder dystocia in newborns.

The FDA announced yesterday that it will require new warnings for Botox and all other Botulinum Toxin products. Botulinum toxin is a neurotoxic protein produced by the bacterium Clostriduam botulinum. It is the most toxic protein known to scientists and one of the most lethal substances to occur in nature. Although not approved for such use, it is often prescribed to children with cerebral palsy, who are injected with the drug in an effort to control limb spasticity that is associated with the disorder. The drug works by paralyzing the muscles, which restricts unwanted movement. After injection, however, the toxin can migrate to other areas of the body, including those muscles used to breathe, causing potentially deadly paralysis. The FDA stated that this adverse affect has occurred most frequently in children with cerebral palsy and that several children with the birth injury have died as a result of the treatment.

The new label requirement includes a black box warning, a type of warning that is reserved for drugs with significant risks of serious or life-threatening adverse affects.

For more information on the FDA’s Botox warning, click here.

A new study published in this month’s issue of the medical journal Acta Pædiatrica suggests that babies conceived during the Spring and Summer may have a greater risk of developing birth defects, including spina bifida, cleft lip, clubfoot and Down’s syndrome. The study looked at over 30 million births and found that the children of women whose last menstrual period occurred in April, May, June or July had an increased number of birth defects.

According to the first author of the study, Paul Winchester, M.D., “elevated concentrations of pesticides and other agrochemicals in surface water during April through July coincided with significantly higher risk of birth defects in live births conceived by women whose last menstrual period began in the same months. While our study didn’t prove a cause and effect link, the fact that birth defects and pesticides in surface water peak during the same four months makes us suspect that the two are related.”

Click here for more about this birth defect study.

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