Brain Damage

Brain damage at birth can be caused by decreased oxygen and/or blood flow to the infant’s brain. The resulting injury is known as hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE). Cases may involve the near total loss of delivery of oxygen and/or blood flow, or may involve partial prolonged loss of oxygen delivery and/or blood flow.

Near total loss cases occur suddenly after events such as:

  • Uterine rupture
  • Tearing away of the placenta
  • Near total compression of the umbilical cord
  • Partial prolonged loss cases occur over a long period of time and can be due to events such as partial obstruction of the umbilical cord.
  • Determining When the Injury Occurred

Factors that will help determine when an injury occurred during labor

Some factors that will help determine when an injury occurred during labor are:

  • Fetal heart tracings
  • Blood gas test results
  • Radiological films
  • HIE that was evident at birth or during the first hours of life
  • Early onset of seizures

Other potential factors include:

  • Infection
  • Trauma
  • Malformations
  • Coagulation disorders

A great deal of medical literature focuses on how to determine whether a child’s brain injury occurred due to loss of oxygen or blood flow at the time of birth. Below are some of the criteria often considered in making this determination:

  • The umbilical cord arterial blood pH is less than a certain amount.
  • There was an early onset of encephalopathy.
  • Cerebral palsy of the spastic quadriplegic or dyskinetic type.
  • Other causes have been excluded.

Apgar scores are another tool used to assess a baby’s health at birth. To measure a baby’s Apgar score, delivery room personnel assess the following five criteria:

  • Heart rate
  • Respiratory effort
  • Reflex irritability
  • Muscle tone
  • Color

Each of these five criteria is scored from 0-2, with the total score being a maximum of 10. Scores are typically taken 1 minute after birth, 5 minutes after birth, and in some cases, 10 minutes after birth. There are also several other indicators that may be important in determining the cause of a baby’s brain damage.

The legal team at Pope & Howard P.C., knows how difficult it is to prove that brain damage occurred at birth and that the brain damage is due to medical negligence – that’s why we complete a thorough evaluation before taking on any case. Our investigations include an analysis of all medical records and past consultations with physicians. As a leading birth injury law firm in Atlanta, Pope & Howard P.C. knows how to fight for the compensation you deserve.

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