The Connection between Birth Injuries and Encephalopathy

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The recent concerns over concussions suffered by football players, especially in the NFL, has brought attention to a medical condition known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (also known as CTE) in which repeated head trauma causes damage to the brain including atrophy or swelling. However, CTE is only one type of encephalopathy and if you think the disease only affects players on the gridiron, you would be wrong. Encephalopathy is a serious condition that can occur during childbirth and possibly affect a baby for his/her entire life.

Encephalopathy in newborns is known as neonatal encephalopathy or hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE). The common cause of HIE comes from the brain being deprived of oxygen during the delivery process, therefore restricting blood flow to the brain and other vital organs. Damage to the heart, liver, kidneys and lungs can cause ongoing medical problems, but it is the damage done to the brain which is the most serious and the least likely to fully heal.

The lasting effects of brain damage from HIE on a newborn include developmental delays and cognitive impairment along with a slow development of motor skills and even cerebral palsy. The extent of limitations is directly connected to where the brain injury occurs and the magnitude of the injury. Sadly, neonatal encephalopathy can also be fatal. Reports show in 2013, there was an estimated 644,000 deaths as a result of HIE.

When parents bring a new baby into the world they count on every medical professional in the delivery room to protect the mother and child from harm. A mistake by a doctor or nurse during this critical time can have a devastating effect on the baby, who will now need special care, and the parents who will take on that responsibility. If your child has been diagnosed with brain damage, including encephalopathy, as a result of an injury at birth, contact the experienced attorneys at Finz & Finz, P.C., to help you recover damages from those responsible for this preventable error.