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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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Delayed Neurological Complications after Head Trauma - Infection

There are many delayed onset complications that happen as a result of birth brain injury. Severe head trauma increases the risk of these complications.

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Skull fractures or piercing wounds can rip the meninges or protective tissue around the brain. Even a small tear in the meninges can let infections get in. When the meninges in the brain get infected, it’s called meningitis. If not treated, it can then spread through the nervous system. There are five different types infections that can spread in the brain—bacterial, viral, fungal, parasitic, and amebic.


Bacterial meningitis is a very serious, potentially deadly infection. Most people do recover, but lasting disabilities such as brain damage, learning disability, and hearing loss can occur. The causes vary by age, and infants are at an increased risk. Mothers can spread bacteria to newborns through the birth canal during labor. Common causes in newborns are Streptococcus, Listeria, and E. Coli.

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Complications from bacterial infections appear quickly over several days. Newborns may act irritable and lethargic, have a poor appetite, exhibit abnormal reflexes, or vomit. In young infants, doctors will check for a bulging soft spot (fontanelle) on the baby’s head. Symptoms of fever, headache, and neck stiffness may absent or be hard to detect. Serious delayed complications include seizures and coma.


Newborns and infants less than one month have an increased risk of severe illness from viral infection due to their weaker immune systems. Viral meningitis is the most common form of the disease and is usually less serious than the bacterial form. Most healthy people can recover without treatment. Still, it’s important to take your child to the doctor to determine which type of meningitis your baby has. Common symptoms in infants include fever, sleeping and eating problems, lethargy, and irritability.


Meningitis caused by a fungus is less common, it does not spread from person to person but instead comes through the bloodstream from another infection somewhere else in the body. For example, when fungus spores are disturbed, they can be inhaled, leading to a lung infection which can then spread to the spinal cord.

Premature newborns with low birth rate have an increased risk of developing this type of disease. Symptoms include headache, vomiting, fever, confusion, and sensitivity to light. For diagnosis, spinal fluid can be tested in a lab to check for meningitis. Knowing the specific kind of infection is important for finding the right treatment. This type is treated with long courses of anti-fungal medicine.


Certain parasites can infect the brain or nervous system. This type of meningitis is much more rare than bacterial or viral. These parasites usually live in animals, not humans. They do not spread from person to person. Instead, people typically can become infected by ingesting something containing the parasite.

Symptoms include fever, nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light, headache, stiff neck, and confusion. The type of parasites that cause meningitis can also infect the eyes. There are some very serious illnesses associated with these parasites that cause loss of muscle control, paralysis, coma, or even death.


Primary Amebic Meningoencephalitis (PAM) is an extremely rare form of parasitic meningitis that causes a fatal brain infection. Microscopic amoeba enters the body through the nose and spreads to the brain. PAM doesn’t spread from person to person. It usually occurs when amoeba go up the nose while a person swims in infected waters.