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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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Signs of Brain Damage from Lack of Oxygen

The brain requires a continual flow of oxygen in order to function properly. When the body suffers a lack of oxygen, brain injury can begin to occur. The length of time that the body goes without oxygen and how quickly treatment was provided in part determine the outcome. Reduced oxygen to the brain is also known as cerebral hypoxia or birth asphyxia. The longer the body goes without oxygen, the more severe the injury is likely to be.

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Signs of Birth Asphyxia

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Damage occurs to the brain from cerebral hypoxia. Those who had reduced oxygen flow may experience less severe symptoms than those who had a complete asphyxia. The signs of brain damage vary greatly from person to person. Those with complete asphyxia for longer than 5 minutes are at the greatest risk of death.

There are some important signs of birth asphyxia in infants:

  • Infant isn’t breathing, needs resuscitation
  • Skin color is pale or bluish
  • Low heart rate
  • Poor reflexes / muscle tone
  • Acidosis, too much acid in the bloodstream
  • Amniotic fluid shows stains from meconium (infant’s stool)
  • Seizures

Doctors and others on the medical team will immediately examine a newborn for these signs, especially if asphyxia is suspected.

Additionally, the infant who suffered from oxygen deprivation could have abnormal breathing, could be lethargic, may have poor circulation, lack of urine output and could have abnormal blood clotting. The child may suffer from cerebral palsy, developmental disabilities, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or impaired sight. These problems may not all be immediately detected.

Developmental Delays

Babies who suffered from asphyxia during birth could have neurological injuries ranging from mild to severe. Those with mild or moderate injuries may experience physical, emotional or developmental delays as they grow. Developmental milestones provide a way for parents and doctors to evaluate a child’s progress.

Each age group has a list of milestones that include areas of:

  • Social and Emotional
  • Language / Communication
  • Cognitive (learning, thinking and problem-solving)
  • Physical Development (movement)

Those who have experienced a lack of oxygen could be behind in their development. Parents of children who suffered cerebral hypoxia at birth will want to pay particular attention to the milestones for each period of growth. The most significant areas that may be the easiest for parents to notice are crawling, walking and talking. While children progress at different rates, those who are becoming delayed should be evaluated for neurological damage.