Brain ischemia can cause brain damage and is, in fact, one of the primary causes of acquired brain damage in babies. According to a statement published in Stroke, Vol. 50, No. 3, ischemic and hemorrhagic strokes occur in about one out of every 4,000 live births. Of these, about 80 percent occur as a result of an arterial ischemic infarction, otherwise known as brain ischemia.
Babies between 28 weeks’ gestation to 28 days after birth are at the greatest risk of brain ischemia. These babies can suffer little lasting damage or significant, lifelong impairments, depending on a range of factors.
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Understanding Brain Ischemia
Brain ischemia, or an ischemic stroke, occurs when the blood flow to the brain slows or stops because of another problem, such as a brain injury, respiratory problems, or an issue with the umbilical cord during gestation.
This lack of or reduced blood flow prevents the brain from getting oxygen and nutrients it needs, allowing cells in the brain to die and causing brain damage. This brain damage may be minor or cause permanent disability or death.
In some cases, babies are born not breathing or with other signs of brain ischemia. When this occurs, it is a medical emergency. The doctor attending the birth must recognize the signs, make a diagnosis, and restore the blood flow to the brain as quickly as possible. Even when addressed quickly after birth, brain ischemia can cause brain damage as well as other permanent symptoms and impairments.
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Recognizing, Diagnosing, and Treating Brain Ischemia
Babies who suffer a relatively minor stroke before birth may not initially show any symptoms. However, those who suffered serious injuries to the brain, and those whose brain ischemia occurred during labor and delivery may display symptoms that include:
- A loss of consciousness
- Paralysis or weakness in one or both arms or one side of the body
- Extreme lethargy
One way doctors may spot an increased risk for brain ischemia is because these babies often display fetal distress that is evident in their vital signs during labor and delivery. This sign is one reason why doctors must monitor the mother and baby throughout the pregnancy.
The long-term outcomes of failing to prevent a stroke in a newborn include:
- Cerebral palsy
- Paralysis and physical disabilities
- Neurodevelopmental disabilities
- Behavioral concerns
- Impaired hearing or vision
- Speech impairments
Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow & Metabolism classifies the possible outcomes of ischemic strokes to include “significant morbidity and severe long-term neurologic and cognitive deficits.”
These children can often learn important skills and gain mobility and independence through therapy, early intervention, and rehabilitation. Many also require medication to manage seizures and other symptoms.
Your Child’s Brain Damage Could Support a Birth Injury Lawsuit
If your child has brain damage caused by brain ischemia and faces therapy and treatment, you may be able to hold the doctor or hospital who failed to prevent or promptly diagnose their stroke accountable. A birth injury attorney will be able to help you build and file a comprehensive claim and seek financial recovery for your family.
This recovery may help you pay for your child’s treatment and care, as well as recover compensation for their pain and suffering, including emotional suffering.
Your attorney can help you assign liability, obtain your medical records, enlist the help of medical experts, and navigate the legal system to pursue the damages your family deserves. We encourage you to take action today. Most birth injury medical malpractice attorneys will review potential cases for free.
It is important to note that there are deadlines for filing these cases in the form of each state’s statute of limitations. There may be additional rules in place that allow you to toll the deadline or that put an ultimate deadline in place through a statute of repose. Your attorney will be able to help you understand the deadlines that apply in your case.
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Speak to a Member of a Birth Injury Team About Your Child’s Case
If you believe your child suffered brain damage as a result of brain ischemia, the Birth Injury Lawyers Group is here to ensure you can get help today. A member of our team can review your case for free today. We offer free consultations. Birth injury attorneys represent families on a contingency basis. You will not need to pay anything for representation or services until—and unless—your attorney can secure a settlement or present a successful case in court.
Call (800) 222-9529 today to speak to someone from the Birth Injury Lawyers Group for your free case consultation.