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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 - Seizures and epilepsy

Specific neurological complications that can happen after days, months or years following head trauma. Some such delayed manifestations are seizures and epilepsy.

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It is important for parents of newborns who suffered BI at birth to know what signs and symptoms to watch out for. If seizures occur, it’s usually within a few days or weeks following a BI. However, some can happen months or years later. The vast majority of children who suffer from seizures or epilepsy recover with the help of medications. They rarely lead to worsening symptoms or death.

Understanding Seizures

Anywhere from 10 to 50 percent of individuals who suffer BI will develop seizures. The severity depends greatly on the type of injury and where it happened in the brain. In a seizure, an unexpected abnormal electrical signal disrupts the brain, usually along a scar left from head trauma. Watch for the following manifestations:

Elk & Elk
  • Being unable to speak or understand others
  • Stiffening, shaking, or other strange body movements.
  • Eyes rolling or unresponsive staring
  • Abnormal feelings, tastes, smells, sounds, or images
  • Sudden fatigue or dizziness

Uncontrollable seizures can happen in an instant and tend to last for only a few seconds, but can as long as 10 minutes. Children may lose control of their bladder or bowels. Afterwards, they feel drowsy and confused. After episodes lasting longer than two minutes, children may find it difficult to stand or walk for a few days.

Seizures Following Head Trauma

When a seizure occurs within a week after head trauma, it is classified as an early post-traumatic. About 25 percent of people who suffer from one such episode will have another months or years later. When a seizure happens more than a week following the BI is called late post-traumatic, and the likelihood of a repeat rises dramatically. Around 80 percent of patients who suffer late post-traumatic seizures develop epilepsy. Epilepsy is when a person has more than one seizure. For some, this is a lifelong issue.

Staying Safe

A seizure can happen suddenly without warning. Always have a family member or caregiver watch the newborn for signs of a seizure. Make sure all caregivers—baby sitters, teachers, grandparents, etc.—know they signs and symptoms to watch out for. Never leave the child alone near water, including pools, lakes, oceans, and the bath tub. Stay attentive to the baby during feedings to watch for choking.

What To Do

Most episodes are short and don’t cause serious injuries. That being said, it’s crucial for parents and caregivers to know how to prevent a child from getting hurt. When your infant is having a seizure:

  • Call 911 if the episode last longer than 3 minutes or if the infant does not return to normal after 20 minutes
  • Ensures the child does not fall. If necessary, hold them steady or move them to the ground.
  • Loosen tight clothing, especially around the neck
  • Turn the head to the side, so nothing blocks the mouth or throat
  • Check the pulse at the neck and start CPR if necessary

Report the event to the child’s doctor. The child’s caregiver needs to be attentive so that they can explain what happened and answer questions from medical professionals. If possible, document each seizure, recording the date, time, and length of each episode with a description of what happened.