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

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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 Injury and Allocation of Limited Resources - Emergence of Symptoms and Disability

When a baby suffers a brain injury at birth, many of the associated symptoms and deficits may not be immediately recognized. The nature of the developing brain and neural networks makes it difficult to assess abilities the child has not gained yet due to their young age.

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An individual may not show signs of a problem for months when they are expected to crawl, walk, or reach other milestones. Some advanced cognitive and intellectual abilities don’t reach full capacity for many years, some not until full brain maturity in a person’s mid- to late-twenties.

The delay in the emergence of symptoms and disabilities can make it hard to allocate limited resources when early intervention can make a difference. Even cerebral palsy may not be formally diagnosed for months or years into a child’s life. Microcephaly, an abnormality in head circumference that affects brain growth, can occur due to an injury. The symptoms may be obvious right away and include high-pitched crying, poor feeding, convulsions, and a higher rate of movement in the arms and legs than normal.

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However, a brief lack of oxygen or disruption in blood flow in the early stages of life doesn't always come with immediate effects. When a baby is expected to start crawling within a few months, they may be slow to begin doing so or may favor one side. The deficits aren’t always immediate to parents, which is why developmental screenings are important. A medical exam to test a child’s development may involve simple play time at a clinic. By observing the child, a clinician can assess movement, behavior, and speech. Observation and questionnaires are used to identify developmental delays, rather than blood or other laboratory tests.

Neurological, hearing, and speech specialists may enter the equation at different phases of development. Disabilities in these areas are usually not present at birth, but intervention can be provided if issues are recognized at the appropriate stages. In Ohio, intervention services are available for children in cases of premature birth, developmental delays, and health problems. The Help Me Grow program targets children under three years of age, and helps identify those who are eligible for Early Intervention Services and formulation of an Individualized Family Services Plan that includes the services, counseling/training, and therapies a child might need.