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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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Symptoms – Overview

The symptoms of infant brain injury vary depending on its exact nature and assessing all of them can help determine a most effective and prompt treatment. Some obvious signs of damage at birth include an abnormally large forehead, usually small head, and distorted facial features. However, these aren’t always present. Some babies will have trouble focusing their eyes or have seizures. Others won’t have any signs of a problem until later.

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Initial Signs of Infant Brain Injury

Physical and functional abnormalities aren’t always present. An infant’s temperament can point to possible damage, depending on the symptoms. A baby that can’t sleep when lying down cries more than normal, or doesn’t feed properly may have brain damage. They may appear fussy but not have an apparent cause for being so. A variety of other underlying conditions can cause these symptoms, so further medical evaluation is needed to determine if there is, in fact, a brain injury.

Symptoms and Child Development

Many brain-injury-related problems aren’t noticeable until later. These often manifest when one expects a baby or child to breeze through developmental milestones. The major symptoms of damage can be broken down into four categories:

Cognitive: Throughout childhood development, a range of attention/concentration, memory, information processing, and language milestones are expected. Even at an early age, babies demonstrate a desire to communicate. Cognitive problems can often be spotted sooner, but many times are not properly diagnosed until a child enters school, when assessments can accurately point out autism spectrum disorder, attention deficit disorder, or Asperger’s syndrome.

Perceptual: A child may show signs of spatial disorientation or changes in their vision or hearing. They may also appear more sensitive to pain. These may not be obvious in an infant, although one may cry more often if pain hypersensitivity is an issue. They may not start crawling or do so in a way not expected at their age if perception problems are present.

Physical: The most obvious physical signs of infant brain injury are paralysis and tremors, but extreme fatigue, sleep problems, and light sensitivity can be symptomatic as well. A baby should hit milestones such as crawling or pulling themselves up without help. They will start to sit up by themselves and develop a firm grasp on objects unless something is wrong. As time goes by, children will normally get better at walking, running, hopping/skipping, or going up and down stairs.

Behavioral and Emotional: Babies with brain injuries may refuse to feed, or have difficulty falling asleep. They may cry excessively and be extremely fussy. High-pitched crying is a sign of problems such as acute bilirubin encephalopathy, an advanced form of jaundice. If a baby’s behavioral or emotional state seems unusual, it can mean many things, but it’s a good idea to look into any potential neurological problems.

Brain Damage – Symptoms – Overview
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