Infant Brain Damage

Infant Brain Damage Attorney

Unfortunately, complications during birth are common. Even with the help of modern medicine, many deliveries don’t go as planned and the most skilled professionals can make mistakes or become careless. What might seem like a small error can have life-changing consequences.

If you suspect your baby has incurred a brain injury by a medical professional’s negligence, we are truly sorry. We understand how difficult this time can be for your family and want to be sure you know your rights. The experienced attorneys at Brain Injury Law Center are here to help.

When Your Child Suffers a Brain Injury

As parents ourselves, we understand your desire to give your child only the best. It’s easy to feel helpless and overwhelmed in a situation like this, but we assure you that you’re not alone.

Our team has helped secure financial support for countless families who have been devastated by the complications of a birth injury. We understand how trying this time can be, and we are committed to helping ease the financial burden a brain injury often places on families and ensuring your child receives the best care available.

Risk of Brain Damage to Young Children

As the most complicated organ in the body, the brain is fragile and easily damaged.

An infant’s brain is still developing and is highly vulnerable to any sort of trauma that can occur during pregnancy or birth. Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) in infants and children often have lasting consequences and can result in disabilities or more.

Brain injury in newborns can happen for a number of reasons, but the leading cause of infant brain injury is lack of oxygen, also known as infant hypoxia. In a matter of seconds, lack of oxygen to an infant’s brain can cause lifelong damage. Newborns typically suffer oxygen loss due to:

Becoming Lodged In The Birth Canal

This may occur during a difficult delivery and can also cause nerve damage in the limbs, leading to conditions such as Erb’s palsy.

Problems With The Umbilical Cord

Twists or knots in the cord can cut off an infant’s oxygen supply to the brain. If the umbilical cord wraps around a baby’s neck, doctors only have seconds to unwrap the cord before brain damage occurs. In some cases, doctors have cut umbilical cords too early, inhibiting the infant to breathe safely on his own.

Blocked Airways

Airways can become restricted by mucous buildup, excess membrane or a defect in the trachea. In these cases, doctors must act fast to clear an infant’s airways before permanent damage occurs.

Placental Abruption

When the placental lining separates from the uterus prior to delivery, it can compromise the infant’s oxygen flow.

Although oxygen deprivation is the most common source of brain injury in infants, it isn’t the only cause. Newborn brain damage can also occur from:

Infections During Pregnancy

Harmful bacteria can damage a growing fetus’ developing nervous system, causing a range of birth defects. It is a doctor’s job to identify any infections as soon as the symptoms appear and provide you treatment that will save your child from a devastating brain injury.

Physical Trauma During Labor And Delivery

Prolonged, strenuous deliveries can impact the soft tissue of an infant’s head including incorrectly using forceps or too much force.

Jaundice

Caused by a buildup of bilirubin, a substance found in bile, jaundice turns the skin and whites of the eyes yellow. When left untreated, it can develop into a form of brain damage known as kernicterus, which may result in athetoid cerebral palsy and hearing loss.

Low Glucose Levels

If during prolonged labor an infant’s glucose level drops drastically and is not quickly restored, brain damage can develop.

Brain damage doesn’t only affect newborns. Toddlers and young children are also at risk if not properly cared for. Parents of toddlers and young children should be cautious when their child suffers a fall or blow to the head, as it can cause significant damage to a child’s developing brain.

Infant Brain Damage Symptoms

The birth of a child with brain injury can turn a joyous occasion into one of devastation.

Timing is crucial in order to get your baby the treatment he needs as soon as possible. It is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of infant brain injury as early detection can save lives. Most infant brain damage symptoms can be detected immediately following birth, while others can take months or years to develop.

If your child has suffered brain damage, physical symptoms can sometimes be detected by looking at an infant’s appearance.

Common signs of brain injury in infants shortly after birth include:

  • Abnormally large forehead
  • Abnormally shaped spine
  • Distorted facial features
  • Unusually small head
  • Seizures
  • Neck stiffness
  • Difficulty focusing the eyes

Infants with brain damage may also exhibit an abnormal temperament, with symptoms including trouble sleeping while lying down, excessive crying, problems with feeding and being excessively fussy for no apparent reason.

Developmental Delays

When brain damage symptoms don’t appear immediately after birth, signs become evident as children approach developmental milestones. Developmental delays related to brain damage are categorized as cognitive, perceptual, physical, behavioral or emotional.

Cognitive delays become apparent when a child is unable to keep up with normal developmental stages. Symptoms may include:

  • Inattention
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Memory problems
  • Difficulty processing information
  • Language problems
  • Inability to control impulses
  • Difficulty communicating

At times, the effects of infant brain damage are not seen until learning disabilities are uncovered in school. Children who struggle with perceptual difficulties may have trouble with the following: spatial orientation, changes in vision or hearing, and a heightened sensitivity to pain.

As children grow, physical impairments may appear, including:

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Sleeping disorders
  • Light sensitivity
  • Paralysis
  • Tremors

Other physical symptoms can include developmental delays in:

  • Crawling
  • Pulling oneself up without help
  • Walking
  • Running
  • Hopping or skipping
  • Using stairs without assistance
  • Feeding oneself without help
  • Tying shoes
  • Drawing and coloring without help
  • Sitting up
  • Getting dressed
  • Grasping and holding onto objects

Permanent Disability

A birth injury can sometimes permanently disable a child. Cerebral palsy is a permanent disability often caused by birth injuries, marked by a lack of muscle control, spastic movements and an inability to use muscles. Symptoms of cerebral palsy include lack of muscle control for simple tasks such as sitting or walking, abnormal reflex responses, lack of coordination and movement control and difficulty with communication due to spastic movements of facial muscles.

Such a birth injury is related to conditions called anoxia & hypoxia, which are marked by the absence of oxygen or low oxygen levels, respectively. If your child stops breathing at birth, your infant should be tested immediately for an anoxic or hypoxic brain injury. A diagnosis is required for your child to receive proper treatment.

What to Do if You Suspect Infant Brain Injury

If you suspect your child has suffered a brain injury, visit your physician right away for a diagnosis.

Diagnosing

A brain damage prognosis is devastating, even more so when it involves an infant just beginning life in this world. With any brain injury, it’s difficult to pinpoint a specific problem and resolution. The different injuries that make up the category of brain damage are vast and it can take several months to receive a proper prognosis during which time a child continues to suffer.

Brain damage is more difficult to navigate in an infant because the skull and brain are not yet fully developed. Signs that might make a brain damage prognosis more easily apparent in an adult may not be as clear in a child, since they are just beginning to learn certain cognitive skills. It poses an even greater challenge to an already delicate injury.

A brain damage prognosis is certainly not something any parent should ever have to face. Our legal team at Brain Injury Law Center has an extensive, successful track record of helping families who have been affected by brain injuries due to a negligence on the part of a health care professional.

Additional medical attention is only the beginning of what’s required to care for a child brain damage. Financial and emotional care are also necessary and can take quite a toll on your family.

What can you do?

You can have someone that you can count on to be on your side, to fight for compensation that may be owed to you and your family. Get answers to your questions and get legal help. It’s the beginning steps of what you can do to help your family heal. Contact us for your free case evaluation at (877) 537-4340 or fill out the contact form to schedule a consultation with no obligation.

Infant traumatic brain injuries are the number one cause of pediatric death and disability in the U.S.

Immediate Effects

Brain injuries are complex to say the least. When brain damage has occurred, there are cognitive clues that illustrate an immediate problem such as:

  • lack of attention
  • poor memory
  • struggles with problem-solving skills
  • difficulty with vocabulary recognition

These issues will become apparent through the child’s communication at home, at school, and even when hanging out with friends or in other social settings. A child’s growth and development is put at risk when brain damage occurs. Simple tasks, which may be easy for other children of the same age to quickly learn, may present a challenge for someone who has suffered a brain injury.

Long-term Challenges

Brain damage isn’t your typical injury because often there are no visible marks that show that something is wrong. There are no cuts, scrapes or bruises. There aren’t any broken bones or noticeable symptoms like rashes or running noses. Unfortunately, there is not a solidified healing process.

Brain damage can have negative effects that last for the rest of a person’s life. As an infant, the brain and skull have yet to fully mature and certain signifiers, such as cognitive, social, and behavioral skills, have not fully formed. A child who has suffered brain damage may face difficulties learning in school, trouble making friends, or becoming independent.

Any delay in growth for a child might not be immediately apparent because they not have reached full maturity. The lasting challenges of a brain injury may be continue to develop over time either improving or declining as a child reaches adolescence and adulthood.

Statistics

According to a joint study by the Center for Biobehavioral Health, Columbus Children’s Research Institute and the Department of Pediatrics, College of Medicine and Public Health, The Ohio State University, infant traumatic brain injuries are the number one cause of pediatric death and disability in the U.S.

There are approximately 200-300 head injuries per 100,000 children every year, which have prompted lower average IQ scores and trouble with adjusting socially. More than five million Americans live with disabilities caused by a brain injury.

Babies and infants are more prone to brain damage since they are unable to protect themselves fully at such a young age. Prevention is truly the only cure for brain injury. Infants are in a vulnerable state due to the delicate brain tissue that makes up their brain. Car accidents or tripping and falling aren’t uncommon occurrences, but for an infant, these types of incidents have the potential to lead to a brain injury.

Mild Infant Brain Damage

iStock_000001088203_SmallAs a parent of an infant with brain damage, you might see some days that are better than others. Mostly infant brain injuries are mild, but recovery times differ and even mild injuries can cause permanent disabilities as the child grows.

When an infant has experienced brain damage, he or she may continue to have behavioral problems or impaired cognitive function as a teenager and even into adulthood. Although children who experience head injuries are able to recover, they often are faced with struggles later in life with education, social cues and emotional communication.

Even as a child goes through different growth and maturation stages, their development may be delayed if they have suffered brain damage of any kind.

Severe Infant Brain Damage

The brain is delicate and a severe brain damage prognosis affects not only the brain, but the skull as well. An aggressive medical approach is necessary for an infant who has suffered brain damage. Although medication and/or surgery is used to treat severe brain damage, if not treated quickly enough an infant may enter an unconscious state during recovery, more permanent brain damage, and even death.

Infant Seizures

A child seizing is a scary event. Seizures may last for a few days, but in some instances, can last for years. In some cases, epilepsy, a condition that can last a lifetime, may develop in infants that have had more than one seizure.

If your child has experienced a seizure, you want to know why it happened and how it can be prevented from happening again. Certain seizures may be caused due to a fever spike as a result of an infection and may be brief and not cause any long-term issues. Others can be the result of a head injury, low blood sugar or a tumor. In a few, unsettling instances, the root cause is unknown.

Infant Spasticity Issues

Severe brain damage can lead to spasticity disorders such as cerebral palsy. This type of condition affects how an infant crawls, walks, and goes through life day to day. Any issues with spasticity is typically a permanent disorder. Even with the help of medication and therapy, this type of issue will affect a child for the rest of their life.

Cognition Issues

Memory loss, behavioral concerns, and mental health issues, such as aggression or depression, are all cognitive problems that can be identified as a result of brain damage in infancy.

Heterotopic Ossification

Heterotopic Ossification is a technical term that refers to the negative chemical reaction that occurs between the brain and other major body parts. “Ossification” or bone formation occurs around the joints, which can lead to limited mobility in a child. It’s important with this diagnosis that all caretakers are aware of the challenges that it can present.


Most infant brain damage is diagnosed by observing typical symptoms in combination with an MRI or a CT scan. These tests provide detailed images of the brain for a doctor to determine if a brain hemorrhage or skull fracture is present. Your physician may also utilize an EEG to calculate the brain’s electric pathways to ensure internal communication is functioning normally.

After a diagnosis, look into available infant brain injury treatment.

The following treatment options are often used following an infant brain injury:

Acute treatment is done at the time of the brain injury and can reduce swelling and bleeding, possibly saving the child’s life.

Surgery can be performed on infants who have suffered severe brain injuries to help repair fractures, stop bleeding and prevent further damage.

Surgery is typically only performed on infants who have suffered severe infant brain damage. Surgery may be necessary if there is bleeding in the skull cavity. Surgery may also be able to repair fractures, stop bleeding and prevent damage to blood vessels.

Common infant brain damage surgeries include:

Craniotomy

This is when a bone flap is removed so doctors have access to the brain. The doctors will then repair skull fractures, large blood clots and blood vessels. A craniotomy is performed by cutting a small hole in the brain to remove the flap. After surgery, the bone flap is secured back into place with screws and plates.

Decompressive Craniectomy

This surgical procedure is performed only when there is severe head trauma or brain damage. A surgeon will remove a large portion of the skull and the brain so that swelling will reduce. Some say a decompressive craniectomy is too life-threatening an option, especially on infants. But in many cases, the procedure is considered the best option. Statistics from the National Institute of Health have shown that about 81 percent of children who survive the surgery go on to live normal, healthy lives.

Medication can help mitigate the symptoms suffered by injured babies. Common medications include: anti-seizure medications to control spasms and seizures, behavioral medications to help with problems such as hyperactivity and aggression, or diuretics to reduce fluid buildup in tissues.

Infants who suffer brain damage also suffer from head pain, seizures, swelling and infections. Your baby’s doctors will know what medications will work best in each case. The most common medications clients of our brain injury attorneys are treated with include:

  1. Anti-seizure medications, such as phenytoin, benzodiazepines and levetiracetam. These medications help control spastics movements and seizures.
  2. Behavioral medications. As infants grow older and closer to their toddler years, those who have suffered from infant brain damage may develop behavioral problems such as hyperactivity, aggression and attention deficits (ADD or ADHD). Common medications to treat these conditions include bromocriptine, amitriptyline and methylphenidate, among others.
  3. Diuretics, which increase urination, thus helping reduce fluids that have built up in tissue. Many diuretics can be administered intravenously. Mannitol is the most common used for brain damage patients.

Transplanted stem cells have been proven to help reverse brain damage caused by strokes and neurological diseases in adults. Although using this to treat infant brain damage is still a new idea, researchers believe that lost brain cells can now be replaced using this method.

Scientists have learned that by injecting stem cells directly into the brain, they can reverse some birth defects in mice. Transplanted stem cells have also shown promise in reversing brain damage caused by strokes and neurological diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

Using stems cells to treat victims of infant brain damage, however, is a relatively new idea. Recently, a handful of research teams have been developing stem-cell-based therapies for rodents with simulated birth defects in the brain. While successful to a surprising degree on rodents, such procedures will need more research to bring to humans.

Brain damage results from the death of brain cells. Researchers believe that by transplanting stem cells into the brain, the cells lost due to injury can be replaced. Stem cells are thought to work because they divide and replenish themselves. They also can change into a specialized cell, like a brain cell.

This is a very promising field of medical science.

Therapeutic cooling works by placing babies deprived of oxygen onto a cooling mat for three days. This procedure slows down the production of harmful substances in the brain as well as the rate of brain cell death. Researchers believe this procedure can improve a baby’s chance of growing up without life-altering disabilities.

Research suggests that cooling the body temperature of babies deprived of oxygen at birth can improve their chance of growing up without disabilities like cerebral palsy.

The procedure works by placing babies deprived of oxygen on a cooling mat for three days. Researchers believe the cooling procedure works slowing both the production of harmful substances in the brain and the rate of brain cell death.

About one in 500 newborns suffer from asphyxia, or a lack of oxygen at birth.

According to the New England Journal of Medicine, newborns given the cooling treatment were more likely to have higher IQs by high school. Researchers said children who received the cooling treatment exhibited better memory, IQ scores, attention spans and less signs of disability.

About 45 percent of cooled infants had no brain abnormalities, compared to 28 percent for those who did not receive the cooling treatment.

Physical and occupational therapy can help a child with brain damage to live a more normal life. Physical therapy focuses on improving physical independence, in areas such as flexibility, coordination, balance, strength, walking, sitting and standing. Occupational therapy helps overcome challenges with daily tasks, such as using the restroom, eating, grooming and dressing, overcoming cognitive issues and emotional problems.

Physical and occupational therapy are very common for anyone who has suffered a brain injury. As your child grows, these therapies may help them live a more normal life by expanding their physical abilities. These therapies and programs are some of the most commonly used to help brain damage patients recover.

Physical therapy, where specialists work with patients to improve physical independence, helps improve:

  • Flexibility
  • Coordination and balance
  • Strength
  • Learning how to walk, sit and stand

Occupational therapy, which helps people overcome challenges that prevent them from performing daily tasks, works with patients to help them:

  • Use the toilet alone
  • Eat on their own
  • Groom and dress themselves
  • Overcome cognitive issues
  • Deal with emotional problems

Every brain injury case is different, and it’s important to know that while advances in medicine are treating infant brain damage better than ever, there is no guarantee any treatment will help your child recover completely. In fact, the sobering fact is that there is a very good chance that if your child has suffered brain damage, his or her life will be impacted forever. And so will yours.

However, your child can learn to navigate the world despite the learning or developmental disabilities caused by a brain injury. Our attorneys have seen it happen. Occupational and physical therapy can do wonders for an infant’s ability to live as normal a life he or she can.

Legal help can make your burden easier. Hiring an experienced brain injury attorney to seek the financial compensation you deserve can brighten the future for your family.

Benefit of an Infant Brain Injury Attorney

If you suspect your child may have suffered a brain injury at birth due to a medical professional’s negligence, your pain and suffering should not go unrecognized.

Brain Injury Law Center is the only law firm in the U.S. dedicated exclusively to representing brain injury victims. Firm founder Stephen M. Smith is also a graduate of Marquette University’s Neuroanatomical Dissection of the Human Brain and Spinal Cord program. His experience with a scalpel gives him an edge in the courtroom.™

Call us today for a risk-free consultation and take the first step in fighting for your child’s future. We are with you and will fight for you.

Frequently Asked Questions About Child Head Injuries

What is the difference between a head injury and a brain injury?

By definition, a head injury is an injury to the skull, whereas a brain injury is an injury to the brain. A brain injury can result from a head injury and must directly impact the brain to inflict damage.

What kind of situations lead to birth injury lawsuits?

Negligence on the behalf of a doctor can lead to a birth injury lawsuit. For example, if a doctor fails to reasonably respond to complications during a birth, or if a doctor irresponsibly advices certain medications to a pregnant mother that leads to a baby’s brain damage, a lawsuit can be warranted.

Will a lawsuit always result in compensation if it can be proven a baby was injured at birth?

Some birth defects are unavoidable and are not due to a doctor’s negligence. In these cases, a birth injury lawsuit may not be successful. Speak with an attorney to determine who can be held responsible for your infant’s injury.

In a lawsuit for birth injury, how does a jury determine if a doctor’s actions were within the standards of good medical practice?

If a case goes to trial in front of a jury, expert witnesses including physicians will provide testimony. A jury’s decision will be based upon the evidence presented.

What type of financial support can I get?

Although a monetary settlement cannot erase what has already happened to your child, a lawsuit can help compensate you for medical bills, medical expenses, rehabilitation, lost wages, future treatments, pain and suffering and more.

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