Infants who suffer hypoxic ischemic brain injuries at birth can suffer severe physical and neurological disabilities that persist throughout their lifetime. physicians and members of the delivery team have a duty of care to closely monitor the health of infants before, during, and after delivery to prevent these injuries. Nationwide, at least two, and possibly as many as ten out of every 1,000 infants born in the country will enter the world without sufficient oxygen reaching their brains.
Causes of Hypoxic Ischemic Brain Injuries
There are many causes of hypoxic ischemic brain injuries in infants. These include problems within the birth canal such as it being too small for the fetus to pass through during delivery. These injuries can also occur due to maternal infections such as herpes or rubella that the child can become infected with as they pass through the birth canal.
Physical trauma is a common cause of brain injury during delivery. The improper use of forceps or vacuums are have been long known to cause these injuries. In fact, many mothers request these devices not be used because of their known hazards.
Placental abruption wherein the placenta separates from the uterus too early can cause significant oxygen deprivation to the infant. Similarly, the infant can become entangled in the umbilical cord and strangle prior to or during delivery.
The vast majority of the reasons infants suffer brain injuries at birth are entirely preventable. With proper monitoring, proper administration of anesthetics, and prompt and proper use of tools and recognized treatments during delivery, these injuries should not occur. But, they do occur with alarming frequency, and when they do, members of the medical team can be held liable for the negligent actions and decisions that caused the injury.
Hypoxic Ischemic Brain Injuries Require Long-Term Care
Any time the brain is deprived of oxygen, families can expect a long road toward the future. When the brain is deprived of oxygen it can result in permanent changes to the function of the organ and the neurological system. It can change an infant’s mental and emotional state, result in psychological changes, and cause medical conditions including cerebral palsy, hydrocephalus, and seizures.
These injuries can require lifelong care and treatment. In many cases, individuals who suffer loss of oxygen become dependent on caregivers for their basic needs.