Parents in the Portland area who are expecting a child may be filled with many emotions ranging from joy to excitement or even to fear. They may fear that the labor and delivery process will be difficult. This fear is not unfounded, as mistakes made during the labor and delivery process can lead to life-long birth injuries, including different types of brain damage.
How can a child suffer brain damage due to physician errors during labor and delivery?
There are four basic types of brain damage that a child could suffer due to mistakes made in the labor and delivery process. They include:
- Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE): This type of brain damage can occur if the infant’s blood or oxygen flow is impeded, resulting in asphyxiation. If not immediately treated, HIE can cause further complications such as ischemic brain damage or cerebral palsy. In fact, this is one of the causes of cerebral palsy that is highly preventable, as physicians are generally able to intervene to prevent or relieve asphyxiation.
- Periventricular leukamalacia: This type of brain damage can result from HIE. Our motor skills develop from nerve receptors in the white matter of the brain. If blood flow to the brain is impeded this can damage white matter, and this can kill the nerve receptors responsible for certain motor skills. This type of brain damage can also occur if the mother’s placenta is torn during pregnancy or delivery and goes unnoticed by her physician.
- Intracranial hemmohage: This type of brain damage involves bleeding of the brain. It often occurs if the baby is premature, since premature infants have blood vessels that are weak. Other causes include: maternal infection, high blood pressure on the part of the mother and complications with the placenta.
- Cerebral dysgenesis: This is an abnormal development of the brain. If the infant suffers a stroke or birth injuries during the labor and delivery process such as head trauma, and these injuries affect the parts of the brain that are responsible for motor function, this could lead to cerebral dysgenesis or even cerebral palsy.
Ultimately, many of these types of brain damage can be traced back to an act of medical negligence. Physicians treating pregnant women should realize when the mother or infant’s health is at stake. If they fail to do so, and an infant suffers brain damage that causes life-long harm, it may be time to seek legal assistance to understand what your options are moving forward.