Brain Damage in Babies

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Brain Damage in Babies Explained by Our Medical Malpractice Lawyer in Portland, OR

The birth of a child is a momentous occasion that every parent looks forward to. It is supposed to be one of the happiest moments of their lives. Unfortunately, there are times when complications occur just prior, during labor and birth, or just after the birth that can alter the trajectory of the baby’s life forever. While some complications are unavoidable and sometimes unanticipated, other times complications occur that are the result of a physician or other health care provider’s error. When these errors occur in avoidable circumstances, this is considered to be negligence. Brain damage in babies should be reviewed by our medical malpractice lawyer in Portland, OR.

What Causes Brain Damage in Babies? 

Brain injuries can occur in many ways. If a baby is dropped or mishandled for instance, this can cause a brain injury. Two very serious types of brain injuries are anoxic and hypoxic brain injuries. These injuries occur due to lack of oxygen to the brain. It is considered to be an anoxic brain injury when there is a complete disruption of oxygen to the brain. It is considered to be a hypoxic injury when there is limited oxygen to the brain, but the brain is still getting some degree of oxygen. When oxygen supply is cut off to the infant, brain cells die, causing irreversible brain damage. It only takes as little as four minutes to cause irreversible brain damage. 

How Do Hypoxic and Anoxic Brain Injuries Occur? 

As mentioned above, brain injuries can occur due to unforeseeable circumstances, while other brain injuries occur as the result of avoidable circumstances, or unforeseeable complications that are not managed properly. Hypoxic and anoxic brain injuries can occur for a variety of reasons and are often the source of brain damage in babies, but include the following: 

  • Umbilical cord prolapse
  • Placental abruption
  • Failing to adequately perform fetal monitoring
  • Failing to intervene in instances of fetal distress
  • Failing to perform a c-section when indicated
  • Maternal infections
  • Delayed intubation or resuscitation efforts if the baby is not breathing at time of delivery
  • Low amniotic fluid (Oligohydramnios)
  • Prolonged labor
  • Uterine rupture
  • Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR)
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Abnormal fetal presentation
  • Uterine tachysystole 
  • Cephalopelvic disproportion 
  • Extraction tool injuries during delivery

These are just a few of the many circumstances in which a baby may suffer a hypoxic or anoxic brain injury that our medical malpractice lawyer in Portland, OR can review for you.

What Type of Injuries Can be Sustained Due to Brain Injuries Caused at Birth?

Sadly, there are many consequences of brain injuries that newborns may face. Brain damage to babies is often permanent and irreversible. A child who suffered a more severe brain injury at birth may never be able to walk, talk, dress themselves or feed themselves. Babies with severe brain injuries may require lifelong care. While sometimes these brain injuries are at the fault of no one, when brain injuries occur as the result of a medical provider’s error, this is considered pure negligence. Examples of these complications due to brain injuries include the following:

  • Cerebral palsy
  • Hearing impairment
  • Vision impairment
  • Seizures
  • Epilepsy
  • Speech delays or impairment
  • Death

What are the Signs That Brain Damage to Babies May Have Occurred?

It may be difficult to identify that a brain injury has occurred at birth. However, there are some signs that may indicate that your baby has suffered a brain injury. Examples of signs of brain injuries include the following:

  • Lack of consciousness
  • Prolonged, poor Apgar score (less than 3)
  • Inability to eat
  • Jerky or spastic motions
  • Seizures

Are There Any Treatments for a Hypoxic or Anoxic Brain Injury?

While damage due to a brain injury can likely be permanent, there is a treatment that may be effective in reducing the degree of brain injury. Hypothermia therapy is used for brain injuries but must be used within six hours of the injury for it to be effective. It is used to slow the spread of the brain damage while allowing damaged brain cells time to recover. If a provider fails to identify the need for this treatment, or does not come forward regarding his/her knowledge that the baby has suffered a brain injury, the window of time is lost and treatment will be ineffective. 

How Can Brain Damage to Babies Be Due to Medical Malpractice?

While some brain injuries are sadly unpreventable, there are many instances in which brain injuries could have been avoided if the medical providers delivering the baby adhered to standards of care and hospital protocols. When a physician or other healthcare provider fails to provide adequate care and serious complications such as brain damage to babies occur, this is considered medical malpractice. 

Examples in regard to how medical malpractice may have caused your child’s brain injury include the following:

  • Dropping the baby at birth
  • Failing to monitor for signs of fetal distress
  • Opting for a vaginal birth when a c-section is truly indicated 
  • Failing to identify prior to labor and delivery that the position of the baby is not conducive for a vaginal delivery (abnormal fetal presentation)
  • Failing to identify prior to labor and delivery that the mother’s pelvis will not allow for a vaginal birth (cephalopelvic disproportion)
  • Improper use of extraction tools, causing injury
  • Allowing the mother to continue to try to deliver after an extended period of time (prolonged labor)
  • Failing to properly intervene when there are signs of fetal distress
  • Overuse of labor inducing drugs, causing uterine tachysystole or hyperstimulation
  • Delay in resuscitation efforts if a newborn is not breathing at birth 
  • Failing to intervene in the event of an emergency during the labor (i.e. placental abruption or umbilical cord prolapse)
  • Failing to properly treat a maternal infection prior to or during labor and delivery of the baby to prevent transmission of the infection to the newborn
  • Failing to intervene with a c-section when there is fetal distress or maternal distress

Our Medical Malpractice Lawyer in Portland, OR Handles Cases of Brain Damage to Babies

If you or a loved one have been seriously injured or killed as a result of medical malpractice contact the Oregon Medical Malpractice Lawyers at Kuhlman Law at our number below or fill out the intake form.  We offer a free initial case evaluation and handle cases on a contingency fee which means that you pay no money unless we recover.

Our law firm handles cases throughout the state including Bend and Portland Oregon, Redmond, Central Oregon, Sisters, Madras, Multnomah County, Deschutes County, Salem, Eugene, Corvallis, Lane County, Medford, Gresham, La Grande, Albany, Medford, Beaverton, Umatilla, Pendleton,  Cottage Grove, Florence, Oregon City, Springfield, Keizer, Grants Pass, McMinnville, Tualatin, West Linn, Forest Grove, Wilsonville, Newberg, Roseburg, Lake Oswego, Klamath Falls, Happy Valley, Tigard, Ashland, Milwakie, Coos Bay, The Dalles,  St. Helens, Sherwood, Central Point, Canby, Troutdale, Hermiston, Silverton, Hood River, Newport, Prineville, Astoria, Tillamook, Lincoln City, Hillsboro, and Vancouver, Washington.

We also have an office in Minneapolis, Minnesota and take medical malpractice cases throughout the Twin Cities, including St. Paul, Hennepin County, Ramsey County, Dakota County, Washington County, Anoka County, Scott County, Blaine, Stillwater, and Saint Paul Minnesota.

For a free case evaluation


(541) 385-1999 in Bend, Oregon
(503) 479-3646 in Portland, Oregon
(612) 444-3374 in Minnesota

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