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Did Your Newborn Suffer Cerebral
Palsy or Another Brain Injury Before
or During Labor and Delivery?

Learn More

Our Birth Brain Injury Resource Guide

the guide

Get a FREE guide of resources available throughout Ohio to children and families of children who were born with brain injuries.

Our guide can help you build a foundation of knowledge and tools that will help you help your child
now and in the future.

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Brain Damage

Knowing the exact nature of brain damage in an infant can help identify a diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment. Head scans provide images that enable doctors to look at the physical structure of the brain. When assessing these images, they will look for:

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  • Neonatal encephalopathy (NE): Evidence of physical damage can be found using magnetic resonance spectroscopy imaging, and blood gas analysis of the umbilical cord can determine if hypoxia or asphyxia have occurred. The condition refers to oxygen deprivation. A form of neurological dysfunction, NE can be suspected if there is clinical evidence of trauma, stroke, infection, or bleeding.
  • Periventricular brain damage: Using an MRI, doctors can analyze white matter damage within one day after birth. Subsequent scans can help track how the injury changes. The physical state of the brain can be assessed with a cranial ultrasound. Medical teams will also look for periventricular leukomalacia, or damage, decay, or death of injured white matter cells, which can cause the lateral ventricles, or open areas inside the organ, to fill with fluid. The majority of infants with this condition are born with cerebral palsy.
  • Intraventricular hemorrhage: A leading cause of brain injury in premature babies, IVH can be spotted by finding the location and extent of the bleeding. It can occur from one hour to five days after birth, and symptoms usually appear within 24 to 48 hours. Untreated, IVH can cause hydrocephalus or enlarged ventricles caused by abnormal cerebral spinal fluid flow
  • Subgaleal hemorrhage: This severe brain bleed is often characterized by head swelling. Evident from birth to up to three days later, it’s caused by vacuum extraction delivery and differentiated from other cranial conditions using an MRI or computed tomography scan.

There isn’t always physical evidence of an infant brain injury. Disruptions to electrical pathways can trigger a wide range of problems, from cognitive deficits to epilepsy. An EEG can measure communications within the brain using precise calculations and may spot evidence of damage that might not manifest physically for years. Bleeding and swelling, however, are direct evidence something is wrong and can lead to immediate damage and restricted oxygen flow that cause permanent damage if not addressed right away.

Brain Damage
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