Child Brain Damage

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During the nine months required for a woman to gestate and bear a child, her doctor is directly responsible for the health of both her and her unborn baby. Failure to provide adequate care can result in brain damage to the fetus, either from a lack of diagnosing a problem or from an injury received during childbirth.

If a doctor does not diagnose an illness in a woman who is pregnant, her baby can be affected and may suffer some form of brain injury such as cerebral palsy. Illnesses or diseases that can be traced to brain damage in babies are numerous, such as syphilis, the measles, rubella, and toxoplasmosis, a parasitic infection. In an instance where a mother does contract an infection that could harm her child, her physician needs to act quickly in order to stop it.

Proper dating of the pregnancy is also extremely important in preventing a brain injury from occurring. If an ultrasound is not done and the dating is off, the baby could be delivered too early. A delivery of a child before 37 weeks is dangerous and could result in brain damage, as the brain may not have had the chance to fully develop. Also, if the lungs have not fully matured, the infant will not be able to receive adequate oxygen. Any delay on the part of the medical staff to supply this oxygen can result in the death of brain cells causing a host of potential problems.

Once a labor has begun and the membranes have ruptured, there is a window of 24 hours in which the doctor must deliver the baby; waiting longer than 24 hours will leave the womb and the child open to infection. During this time, the baby is especially susceptible to infection which could cause a brain injury.

If a physician notices that the labor is taking too long or has become stalled, they need to take immediate action in order to help save the mother and unborn baby. In instances where the baby is in the wrong position, such as a breech presentation, or where the head is up against the pelvic bone instead of facing down as it is supposed to be, an immediate emergency cesarean section can help save both the mother and the child. Failure to act quickly and decisively could result in a child brain injury such as cerebral palsy.

If the infant is stuck in the birth canal during delivery, the doctor will probably use forceps or a vacuum to help extract the baby safely. However, if the physician uses the tools incorrectly, it can irrevocably harm the baby. If the placement on the vacuum or forceps is not correct it can cause bleeding in the brain, which could lead to a variety of child brain injuries and extensive, irreversible brain damage.

In the case of a stalled labor due to the shoulder being lodged behind the mother's pelvic bone, also called shoulder dystocia, the doctor will need to carefully maneuver the baby out of the birth canal. If excessive force is used the nerves in the back of the neck and head could be damaged causing a temporary or possibly permanent paralysis as well as injury to the brain. This paralysis is a type of cerebral palsy known as Erb's palsy, which affects the nerves in the arm only.

Parents of children who have suffered child brain damage at the hands of their physician should seek counsel from a knowledgeable lawyer. Lawyers who have experience in child brain damage lawsuits will be able to distinguish if there is a valid medical malpractice claim and will be able to assist parents through the process. A solid case is the best way of assuring a win in a medical malpractice situation, allowing the parents to receive compensation in order to better care for their injured child.


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