The first question you may be asking yourself after learning that your baby experiences seizures is, “Can a baby die from having a seizure?” Seizures can occur for a wide variety of reasons—some much more concerning than others. Depending on the severity and the source of the issue, seizures can be fatal. This is why it is important to inform a doctor if you believe your infant had a seizure.
A doctor can help you identify the cause of the seizures and determine what treatment may help reduce or eliminate the issue. If it turns out that a birth injury led to a condition that causes seizures, you may qualify for compensation.
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Symptoms of Seizures in Infants
A seizure is caused by an uncontrolled electrical pulse in the brain. The body will have a seizure when a part of the brain has abnormal electrical signals going through it, which interrupt normal brain signals.
Seizures can create a number of visual symptoms that may continue for up to 2 minutes in adults and older children. These symptoms may include difficultly swallowing or speaking, sudden jerking movements in the arms and legs, and loss of consciousness.
The symptoms of seizures in newborns, however, can differ quite a bit. In fact, the symptoms are often difficult to differentiate from an infant’s normal state. This can make it difficult for parents and even doctors to recognize the signs of neonatal seizures. Some indications that an infant may be having a seizure include:
- Stiffening of an arm or leg.
- Odd jerking motions in the limbs.
- Sudden changes in breathing rate.
- Sudden changes in heart rate.
- Lack of responsiveness.
- Change in the facial expression, to a grimace.
These symptoms are not all that different than how a baby may behave when fully healthy, which is the reason diagnosis is so difficult. If one or more of these signs occur and you believe it may be due to a seizure, you should contact your doctor immediately. Further tests and examinations may reveal other symptoms that can help the doctor reach a diagnosis.
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Causes of Seizures in Newborns
A number of circumstances can cause a baby to have a seizure. These include:
- Premature birth: Babies born prematurely may experience seizures because of low birth weight and heightened risk of infection or injury.
- Infection: A baby may be born with an undiagnosed infection in the brain or in the membranes surrounding the brain that can cause issues in development, increasing the potential for seizures.
- Lack of oxygen to the brain: If the baby’s oxygen supply is cut off or reduced during the delivery process, it can lead to a stroke, hypoxia, or another condition that can cause seizures.
Epilepsy is a brain and nervous symptom disorder that causes seizures. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 3 million American adults have epilepsy, along with another 470,000 children ages 17 and younger. If a doctor is unable to find another underlying cause for your infant’s seizures, you may receive an epilepsy diagnosis.
Seizures Can Be Fatal
Seizures can be fatal for anyone who suffers from them, though the underlying cause generally determines the likelihood of significant injury or death. Some seizure conditions in infants have simple remedies and can go away after only a few days of treatment.
One of the most dangerous outcomes of seizures is Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (or SUDEP), which can occur in conditions with persistent seizures. Roughly 1 in 1,000 people with epilepsy suffer SUDEP. Doctors are unsure what causes SUDEP and why it only occurs in some cases, so the best way to guard against it is to attempt to eliminate or reduce the frequency of the seizures through medication and other treatments.
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Infant Seizures from Medical Malpractice
Although it is rare, a baby can die from having a seizure. It is important for doctors to closely monitor the baby’s and look for signs of seizures, especially if the baby experienced a difficult birth. Seizures could signify a serious health problem, and a quick diagnosis can help prevent further complications.
Sometimes, seizures could be a sign that doctors or other medical personnel made a mistake during the delivery, causing injury to the baby. If the delivery was a difficult one in which the doctor needed to use forceps or the baby was in the birth canal too long, a brain injury might have occurred. That injury could cause a condition or complication that leads to seizures.
If you believe a doctor or someone else in the delivery room committed medical malpractice during your baby’s birth, you have the right to seek compensation. For a free case review, contact the Birth Injury Lawyers Group today at (800) 222-9529.