What does it mean when the doctor says my baby has a brain injury?

When a newborn is diagnosed with a brain injury, parents are left with dozens of questions about treatments, long-term outcomes, care needs, causes, and more. Learning that your child has brain damage can mean different things for your family and loved one depending on the type of brain injury, the severity of the damage, and treatment options. Common early diagnoses given to babies with brain damage include hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), neonatal encephalopathy, cerebral palsy (CP), and periventricular leukomalacia (PVL). HIE is the most common cause of newborn seizures, and many babies with HIE develop PVL, cerebral palsy, intellectual disabilities, developmental delays and motor disorders. Often, brain damage in a newborn is caused by a birth injury.

What should I do if my child has a brain injury?

When a brain injury is suspected, head imaging should be performed. This imaging should be repeated, because brain injuries can evolve over days, weeks, and months. Medical professionals should carefully measure the evolution of the injury as well as the extent of the damage (1).

Some babies are diagnosed with birth injuries, such as hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), shortly after birth. HIE requires immediate treatment to halt the progression of brain injury. The only proven treatment for HIE is therapeutic hypothermia, administered within 6-24 hours after birth.

Other times, a baby’s birth injury may not be noticed until the child is older and certain developmental milestones are missed. If your baby is missing developmental milestones or you have been told they have a speech delay or low muscle tone, it is crucial that they have been examined by a neurologist and that a brain scan such as an MRI has been performed to determine if they have a brain injury. Brain injury is an evolving process; the injury can continue for days and weeks after the initial insult to the brain.

More on Infant Brain Injury

Infant Brain Injuries - Reiter & Walsh, PC Birth Injury Attorneys

Visit our main page on Infant Brain Injury here

Legal help for neonatal brain injuries

If your infant was diagnosed with a brain injury or experienced brain damage at birth as the result of medical negligence, you may be eligible for compensation. We encourage you to contact our attorneys at ABC Law Centers (Reiter & Walsh, P.C.) for a free legal consultation. Our attorneys focus solely on birth injuries, and are available 24/7 to talk with you. 

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  1. Lasting Effects of Brain Damage in Babies. www.abclawcenters.com/practice-areas/types-of-birth-injuries/brain-injury-overview/.