Failure to Prevent or Diagnose Neonatal Stroke Birth Injury

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Failure to Diagnose a Diagnose Neonatal Stroke Birth Injury Could be Oregon Medical Malpractice

Many people are aware of the medical event known as a stroke. However, most people when thinking about strokes picture older adults. However, strokes can happen to anyone at any age, including at birth. The type of stroke a baby suffers at birth is referred to as a neonatal stroke.. Additionally, the way that a stroke is managed is critical for determining the overall outcome for an infant. If a physician fails to identify a neonatal stroke, thus leading to a delay in treatment, it can result in catastrophic consequences for the newborn. While neonatal strokes can be difficult to detect, physicians are often able to minimize the risk of a neonatal stroke occurring by providing adequate prenatal care and care during labor and delivery. When a physician fails to minimize the risk of a stroke (i.e. by failing to treat a maternal infection), it is considered to be negligence. This is because a neonatal stroke birth injury could be fatal or have long-term health consequences.

Neonatal Stroke Explained

A neonatal stroke occurs any time within the first 28 days after birth. However, if the stroke occurred within the first seven days after birth, it is referred to as a perinatal stroke. The stroke occurs due to an interruption or obstruction of blood flow to the neonate’s brain. Due to the interruption or blockage, the baby’s brain experiences oxygen deprivation as well as a blockage of the blood vessels. This is why a neonatal stroke birth injury could be so devastating.

Types of Neonatal Strokes

There are two types of neonatal stroke; ischemic and hemorrhagic. Ischemic stroke is typically due to venous or arterial occlusion while hemorrhagic stroke is most often due to a cerebral artery that is ruptured and bleeding

Symptoms of a Neonatal Stroke

It is more difficult to tell if a neonate is experiencing a stroke rather than an adult who is experiencing a stroke. Babies who have experienced a neonatal stroke may experience seizures. However, it may not be apparent that a baby has suffered a stroke until later in childhood when they may have slurred speech, paralysis or numbness on one side of their body, or difficulty with balance. 

Causes of Neonatal Stroke

Neonatal stroke can occur for a variety of reasons. Some of these reasons are due to medical malpractice, while there are instances in which neonatal stroke is unavoidable. Examples of causes of neonatal stroke birth injury include the following: 

  • Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE) – this is generally always due to medical malpractice
  • Prematurity – Babies who are born before they are full term
  • Placental infections
  • Maternal infections
  • Improper monitoring of the baby during labor and delivery
  • Trauma due to the inappropriate use of labor extraction tools
  • Trauma due to cephalopelvic disproportion
  • Birth defects
  • Intracranial hemorrhage

Diagnosis of Neonatal Stroke

As mentioned, neonatal strokes are not always diagnosed immediately, and may not be diagnosed until the child is older and is exhibiting signs and symptoms of having suffered from a stroke. Sometimes, a neonatal stroke can be diagnosed with the use of fetal MRI while in utero when there is a possibility of a birth defect. Additionally, if a baby is suffering from seizures after birth, a CT, MRI, or ultrasound should be used to identify if the baby has suffered from a stroke.

Is There Any Treatment for Neonatal Stroke?

There are some treatments for neonatal stroke. Unfortunately, as mentioned above neonatal strokes are not always identified immediately, thus minimizing treatment options if it is not diagnosed immediately. There are two common methods for neonatal stroke, which include heparin and urokinase. Heparin works to reduce the clotting of blood and formation of blood clots in blood vessels while urokinase is administered to help treat bleeding.

Therapeutic hypothermia is another treatment for neonatal stroke. It works by cooling the brain to a lower temperature to prevent any further damage from occurring. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is another treatment that works by placing the baby in a pressurized room with 100% oxygen, causing them to only inhale oxygen. The extra oxygen given can help by making up for the oxygen that was lost during the stroke. While therapeutic hypothermia and hyperbaric oxygen therapies are both options for treating neonatal stroke, these are fairly new therapies so some doctors may not feel comfortable using them. 

Complications of a Neonatal Stroke

Sadly, babies who suffer from a neonatal stroke are likely to experience deficits. Common complications of neonatal stroke include the following:

  • Cerebral palsy
  • Epilepsy
  • Developmental disabilities 
  • Learning disabilities
  • Behavioral disorders
  • Paralysis of one side of the body
  • Motor deficits
  • Sensory dysfunction
  • Visual deficits

Neonatal Stroke Medical Malpractice

While not all neonatal strokes can be prevented, there are some instances in which the stroke could have been entirely preventable. Examples of medical malpractice that can result in neonatal stroke include the following: 

  • Failure to diagnose and treat maternal infection, leading to infection in utero or after birth which can lead to neonatal stroke
  • Failure to monitor for signs of fetal distress during labor and delivery 
  • Trauma during birth, leading to neonatal stroke
  • Failure to properly treat placental rupture or abruption
  • Failure to perform a c-section if complications arise
  • Failure to perform a c-section if the baby is showing signs of fetal distress
  • Failure to identify and respond appropriately to umbilical cord problems (i.e. nuchal cord, umbilical cord prolapse), leading to neonatal stroke
  • Failure to appropriately treat pre-eclampsia
  • Improper use of vacuum extractor or forceps when delivering the baby
  • Failure to treat placental infection
  • Failure to properly treat a newborn with neonatal stroke if there are signs that the baby may have suffered from a stroke (i.e seizures)
  • Failure to properly investigate with the use of imaging if the baby has suffered from a neonatal stroke, if suspected

Neonatal Stroke Birth Injury Due to Oregon Medical Malpractice

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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