How is neonatal brain damage prevented?

Preventing Neonatal Brain Injury

Neonatal brain damage can be caused by a number of complications, conditions, and medical errors occurring during pregnancy, around the time of delivery, or in the neonatal period. At each step of pregnancy, childbirth, and the neonatal period, medical professionals must prevent neonatal brain injury through proper treatment, diagnosis, and care.


Preventing Neonatal Brain Injury Before Delivery

Preventing neonatal brain injury begins with proper prenatal care. Medical professionals are obligated to test for and diagnose any health condition or factor that would put the baby at risk for brain damage. If a risk factor for neonatal brain damage is present before labor and delivery, that pregnancy must be labeled as a high-risk pregnancy, and the mother must be adequately and accordingly cared for. High-risk pregnancies that present danger to the mother or baby may require planned C-section delivery or special medications.

Preventing Neonatal Brain Injury During Delivery

During labor and delivery, certain complications and medical errors can lead to neonatal brain damage—most commonly, neonatal brain damage is caused by fetal oxygen deprivation or head trauma during delivery. When a baby is experiencing oxygen deprivation, a non-reassuring heart tracing will appear on the fetal heart monitor. Babies experiencing fetal oxygen deprivation must be be promptly delivered by C-section to protect them from oxygen-depriving conditions. Labor and delivery units must have the ability to perform a C-section delivery immediately. Watching the fetal heart monitor for signs of distress and delivering a baby by emergency C-section are relatively simple procedures that can prevent a baby from being oxygen deprived and having birth injuries that can cause lifelong problems such as cerebral palsy, hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), seizures, and intellectual disabilities. Simple mistakes, such as failure to recognize and act on fetal distress, can cause an otherwise healthy child to have severe and permanent problems.

To prevent neonatal brain injuries caused by head trauma, medical personnel must detect, diagnose and plan around any condition, situation, or complication that could cause the baby’s head to become traumatically impacted during the process of childbirth. For example, medical personnel must diagnose fetal size or presentation complications (such as cephalopelvic disproportion, breech presentation or macrosomia) before birth and plan a safe delivery accordingly, most often by planned C-section. Furthermore, medical professionals must prevent neonatal brain injury through the correct usage of delivery assistance tools (forceps and vacuum extractors). Common neonatal brain injuries caused by head trauma include intracranial hemorrhages, skull fractures, and hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy.

Preventing Neonatal Brain Injury After Birth

Medical errors and improper care can cause neonatal brain injuries during the neonatal period. Examples of neonatal complications that can cause permanent brain damage in a baby include overventilation and respirator errors, NICU errors, kernicterus from mismanaged jaundice, fetal stroke, meningitis and poorly managed infection. Medical professionals must do everything to diagnose, prevent and/or properly treat any neonatal complication or injury that can cause brain damage in an infant.

Legal Help for Neonatal Brain Injury and Medical Malpractice

Preventing Neonatal Brain Injury | Birth Injury FAQsPreventable medical mistakes that cause neonatal brain damage, birth injuries, or any other harm to the mother or baby are considered medical malpractice. If your loved one was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), or a different neonatal brain injury from medical malpractice, we encourage you to contact the birth injury attorneys at Reiter & Walsh, P.C. Our team of birth trauma attorneys, nurses and professionals solely take birth injury cases and will help you determine the cause of your loved one’s specific injuries. Should we take your case, you will never be charged until we win or settle in your favor. To begin your free case review with Reiter & Walsh ABC Law Centers, please contact us in any of the following ways:

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