Brain injuries which occur during birth are incredibly scary and can have lifelong consequences. Unfortunately, they are also quite common with over 500,000 cases in the US every year. There are many ways in which infant brain injuries can occur and their impact and severity can vary greatly.
There are numerous ways in which brain injury can be caused during and shortly after birth.
Also known as birth asphyxia, it is estimated that oxygen deprivation occurs in around 4 of every 1000 full-term births. Infants begin to breath shortly after birth. If this does not happen on its own, physicians have only a few minutes to induce breathing before significant and serious brain damage can occur. Just a few minutes of oxygen deprivation can lead to neurological problems, cerebral palsy, ADHD, and vision problems and serious cases can result in organ failure and death. There are numerous causes of oxygen deprivation, including low blood pressure in the mother, the umbilical cord getting wrapped around the baby’s neck during delivery, airways that become constricted or blocked, and anemia at birth. A cautious and proactive physician should generally be able to respond to trouble in a timely manner so that lifelong injury is prevented. Children with mild and moderate cases of oxygen deprivation can often make full recoveries.
Birth related brain injuries are to blame for the majority of cases of cerebral palsy and intellectual disability in the United States. These brain injuries can occur in a variety of ways during birth. Labor and delivery are difficult processes that can be physically traumatic to an infant if not handled correctly. For instant, improper use of medical tools such as vacuums and forceps can cause irreversible brain injuries in infants. A delivery that is performed too quickly can also lead to brain injuries and difficult deliveries are highly risky as the child is liable to repeatedly hit its head against its mother’s pelvic bone. Too much force and twisting and pulling during birth are another cause of brain injuries during birth.