May 7-13 is World Pediatric Stroke Awareness Week! (#WPSAW)
Common Misconception: Strokes Only Happen to Adults
Many people believe that strokes are solely the purview of adults and the elderly – and while it’s definitely true that adults and the elderly are more likely to have strokes, it’s very important to remember that children and infants do get strokes as well.
In fact, children are most likely to have a stroke during the perinatal period (the time frame a few hours before and after birth). This means that newborns must be closely monitored and promptly treated by medical staff if they suffer a stroke. The brains of newborns are very malleable and rapidly growing, so if caught and properly treated in a timely fashion, it is possible to minimize damage caused by strokes and their sequelae.
What Can Cause Pediatric Stroke?
There are many causes of strokes in newborns, but they can be broadly divided into two different categories – injuries that cause ischemic stroke and injuries that cause hemorrhagic stroke. Sometimes injuries can cause both ischemia and hemorrhaging, so there may be overlap.
It can sometimes be difficult to pinpoint the causes of a stroke, but in some cases risk factors can be identified that increase the risk of a fetal stroke. If an infant had HIE (hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy), trauma to the head, or the baby’s mother had certain medical conditions (like preeclampsia, premature rupture of membranes (PROM), chorioamnionitis, gestational diabetes, placental abruption or thrombosis), the risks of a fetal stroke are higher. This is one of the reasons that physicians must monitor women closely if they have had a pregnancy complication, as the health risks of birth injuries can be intertwined.
What Should My Physicians Do If My Baby Had a Stroke?
The way that medical personnel treat a baby with a fetal stroke can vary based on a large number of factors, so each case is different. There are a wide variety of actions that medical staff can take, including:
- Conducting early head imaging to identify the extent and severity of damage caused by the fetal stroke
- Providing breathing support or ventilation for the baby
- Providing treatments to ensure that the baby has optimal circulation and blood to the brain
- Providing IV fluids and blood thinners to prevent recurrent fetal strokes
- Providing rehabilitative care to reduce functional impairment later in life
- Treating seizures that result from fetal strokes (seizures can cause further brain damage)
How Do Doctors Tell If My Baby Had a Fetal Stroke?
There are a number of tests that medical staff can perform to tell if a child has had a fetal stroke. These include MRIs, MRAs, MRVs, CT Scans, CTAs, cranial ultrasounds and lumbar punctures.
What Happens If My Pregnancy Seemed Normal But My Baby Had a Stroke ‘In-Utero’?
Sometimes it’s worth taking a second look at the diagnosis and the circumstances surrounding a fetal stroke. Understanding the injury and its outcomes can already be difficult; hospitals and doctors may not be clear in explaining the cause of the injury. Experienced birth injury attorneys and their expert nurses and doctors can help by examining your child’s medical records and determining if medical staff fell below standards of care and caused a stroke to occur.
Legal Help for Fetal Strokes
A newborn’s brain is very delicate, and the utmost care must be taken to ensure the baby does not develop neurological injuries. If a medical professional makes an error, it can mean lifelong, permanent injuries that can impact cognitive, motor function, and behavior, making this an exceptionally serious issue. Feel free to reach out to Reiter & Walsh ABC Law Centers for a free case evaluation. You will pay nothing out-of-pocket, and we will inform you of your legal options. Also, please check out our birth injury resources for the U.S. and state of Michigan.
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