There are many complications that can occur during or near the time of delivery that can cause permanent brain damage in a delicate infant. Often, the complications cause a deprivation of oxygen-rich blood in the baby’s brain, and this can cause a brain injury called hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE). HIE can cause conditions such as cerebral palsy, intellectual disabilities and developmental delays, periventricular leukomalacia (PVL), hydrocephalus and seizure disorders.
A fairly recent breakthrough in treatment of HIE and prevention of cerebral palsy is a treatment that cools the brain (hypothermia). When a baby is diagnosed with HIE and is given hypothermia treatment within 6 hours of the oxygen depriving insult, the baby’s chances of dying or developing cerebral palsy are significantly decreased. Indeed, hypothermia treatment can greatly reduce the severity of brain damage in a newborn.
Hypothermia treatment works by reducing the injurious effects of oxygen depriving insults. The treatment can slow down or halt the cascade of damaging events that take place in the brain when it is deprived of oxygen-rich blood.
ALLOPURINOL SHOWS PROMISE IN PREVENTING BRAIN DAMAGE AND CEREBRAL PALSY
A drug called Allopurinol is currently being studied in many different research trials because it has shown a lot of promise in preventing brain damage in babies when it is administered within 3 hours of birth. Allopurinol can increase blood flow in the brain and help keep the brain’s electrical activity normal. It has also been shown to prevent free radical damage, which is one of the factors that greatly contributes to permanent brain damage after an oxygen depriving insult.
Giving Allopurinol to mothers whose pregnancies were complicated by oxygen-depriving conditions has been associated with improved umbilical cord blood gases. An abnormal (acidic) blood gas is an indication that a baby has been deprived of oxygen. The more acidic the blood, the more severe the oxygen deprivation. Thus, this research shows that Allopurinol treatment helps improve oxygenation in the unborn baby (it improves oxygen transfer across the placenta). Conditions that can cause reduced oxygenation in an unborn baby include preeclampsia (high blood pressure / hypertension), gestational diabetes / reduced uteroplacental perfusion (blood flow), and uteroplacental insufficiency.
CAUSES OF HIE AND CEREBRAL PALSY
Oxygen deprivation and HIE are significant causes of brain damage in babies. If not properly managed, the following conditions can cause HIE and cerebral palsy:
- Uteroplacental insufficiency
- Gestational diabetes and reduced uteroplacental perfusion (RUPP)
- Placental abruption
- Placenta previa
- Umbilical cord problems, such as a nuchal cord (cord wrapped around baby’s neck) or umbilical cord prolapse
- Failure to quickly deliver a baby when fetal distress is evident on the fetal heart rate monitor (delayed emergency C-section)
- Oligohydramnios (low amniotic fluid)
- Anesthesia mistakes, which can cause blood pressure problems in the mother, including a hypotensive crisis
- Premature rupture of the membranes (PROM) / premature birth
- Prolonged and arrested labor
- Ruptured uterus (womb)
- Fetal stroke
- Preeclampsia / eclampsia
- Intracranial hemorrhages (brain bleeds), which can be caused by a traumatic delivery. Forceps and vacuum extractors can cause brain bleeds. Sometimes intense contractions (hyperstimulation) caused by labor induction drugs (Pitocin and Cytotec) can cause head trauma. Mismanagement of cephalopelvic disproportion (CPD), abnormal presentations (face or breech presentation), and shoulder dystocia also put a child at risk of having a brain bleed.
- Hyperstimulation caused by Pitocin and Cytotec can also cause oxygen deprivation that gets progressively worse.
HELP FOR CHILDREN WHO HAVE HIE, CEREBRAL PALSY OR OTHER BIRTH INJURIES
The attorneys at Reiter & Walsh ABC Law Centers have been helping children with HIE and cerebral palsy for over two decades. Jesse Reiter, the firm’s co-founder, has been focusing on birth injury cases his entire 25+ year career. When Jesse takes a case, he spends a lot of time getting to know the child and family he is helping so that he can fully understand the child’s needs. Jesse has won many awards for his advocacy of children, and he is currently recognized as being one of the best medical malpractice lawyers in America by U.S. News and World Report 2014, as well as one of the 10 Best Attorneys in Michigan by Super Lawyers magazine. Reiter & Walsh ABC Law Centers is also recognized as being one of the best law firms in the country by U.S. News and World Report 2014.
Cerebral palsy and HIE are difficult areas of law to pursue due to the complex nature of the disorders and the medical records that support them. The nationally recognized attorneys at Reiter & Walsh ABC Law Centers have decades of experience with cerebral palsy and HIE cases. To find out if you have a case, contact our firm to speak with an experienced attorney. We handle cases in Michigan, Ohio, Texas, Washington, D.C. and throughout the nation. We have numerous multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements that attest to our success, and no fees are ever paid to our firm until we win your case. Email or call us at 888-419-2229.