Seizure disorders in newborn children are caused by a variety of reasons, but are frequently the result of a neonatal stroke or other type of brain injury during labor or shortly after birth.
Any type of injury to a child’s developing brain can result in permanent damage, leading to a host of neurological disorders including seizures and/or the development of cerebral palsy.
While the brain injury that resulted in your child’s seizure disorder may have occurred due to a variety of reasons, it’s important to find out whether or not medical negligence may have played a role. If the physician’s negligence rose to the level of medical malpractice, your family may be owed compensation.
Neonatal seizures can happen spontaneously and may be hard to catch. They often show up as abnormal electrical activity in the baby’s brain, and often present physically as rhythmic jerking movements, excessive blinking, lip smacking, involuntary arm or leg movements, as well as the baby’s eyes moving in a horizontal manner.
Seizures are most-often caused by brain damage or a malformation of the child’s brain They are said to be partial (or focal) when they affect only one side of the brain, and generalized if they affect both sides.
Seizures tend to show up during the first 28 days of a child’s life, and should be taken as a clear sign that the child may have suffered some form of brain injury such as hypoxia (or hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy) caused by oxygen deprivation during labor or delivery.
They occur in around 1.4 percent of all infants that are born full-term, as well as in around 20 percent of those born prematurely.
Some causes of neonatal seizures include:
- Asphyxiation, strangulation, or respiratory distress during delivery.
- A severe infection.
- Low blood sugar.
- The overuse of anesthesia, pain relievers, or illegal drugs like heroin and cocaine.
- A neonatal stroke.
A stroke occurs when a blood vessel ruptures, causing internal bleeding within the brain — or due to the interruption in the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain due to constriction or a blood clot.
Fetal strokes must be treated immediately to prevent extensive brain damage or death, and a failure to monitor the child’s vitals and distress signals may be considered medical malpractice.
It only takes a few minutes of oxygen deprivation to cause brain cell death, and this can manifest in seizure disorders, as well as neurological disorders like cerebral palsy.
Fetal strokes are not common, any may be caused by:
- Preeclampsia (high blood pressure) has the tendency to cause decreased placental blood flow, increasing the risk of a neonatal stroke.
- Chorioamnionitis (inflammation in ones fetal membranes on account of a bacterial infection) can cause strokes due to bleeding in the brain.
- Trauma caused by improper birth methods or the aggressive use of vacuum pumps and forceps to pull the baby out off the womb may also lead to damaged blood vessels in the head and brain.
How Do I Know If the Doctor Committed Medical Malpractice?
Unfortunately, hospitals and doctors are not likely to admit to any mistakes or maltreatment in fear of opening themselves up to liability. In fact, the only way to truly know what actually occurred may be to have an attorney investigate the facts of your claim.
If you suspect that medical malpractice may have played a role in your child’s birth injury, consider seeking out a free consultation with an attorney who specializes in cerebral palsy cases.
These types of attorneys work on a no-win no-fee basis, so there’s no financial risk to you should you choose to pursue a claim.