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Anoxic Brain Injuries

Lawyers Dedicated to Holding Negligence Healthcare Providers Accountable

Anoxic brain injuries are not exclusively a birth injury. However, problems during birth - and treatment failures following birth - are among the leading causes of anoxic brain injuries. Anoxic brain injury is among the few brain injuries not caused by external trauma, such as a blow to the head. Rather, anoxic brain injury happens when the brain is deprived of oxygen, regardless of the reason. Without oxygen for too long a time, brain cells start to die. If to many brain cells die at the same time, victims may have reduced brain function. The longer the oxygen deprivation, the more damage occurs and the more extensive the loss of function becomes. Taken to extremes, anoxic brain injury can be fatal.

If you have had a child injured at birth by an anoxic brain injury, even fatally, you should consult at attorney to see if you have avenues to pursue compensation for your loss. The medical malpractice attorneys of Slappey & Sadd have experience handling such cases. If your child has suffered an anoxic brain injury, you should consult an attorney to determine your options. It is possible you can recover compensation.

What are Anoxic Brain Injuries?

At the most basic level, anoxic brain injuries are caused by any event or condition that deprives the brain of oxygen for enough time to cause an anoxic brain injury. The injury is a result of that oxygen deprivation. For adults, these causes can include near-drowning, strangulation, a stroke, choking on something in a way that interferes with breathing, or any number of other potential causes.

When it comes to anoxic brain injuries caused at birth, however, among the most common causes are when a baby is trapped in the birth canal or when the umbilical cord becomes wrapped around the baby's neck. Both events can cut off the supply of oxygen to the baby's brain, potentially resulting in an anoxic brain injury. Anoxic brain injuries at birth also can arise when the umbilical cord gets twisted, even if not around the baby's neck, or crimped or compressed in the tight quarters of the birth canal and cannot deliver oxygen to the baby during the birth process.

It often is not easy to tell that a baby has been deprived of oxygen during birth. Often, symptoms only become apparent when the baby is a little older, such as a toddler or pre-schooler. However, anoxic brain injuries can be devastating and require rapid treatment to reduce or eliminate long-term impacts. There are early symptoms to help you - and your doctor - determine whether your baby might have suffered oxygen deprivation during birth that led to an anoxic brain injury. Such symptoms include:

  • Your infant has a low Apgar score right after delivery
  • Seizures in the first 48 hours after birth
  • Your baby has trouble latching onto a bottle or breast and has trouble swallowing milk
  • The infant cannot be easily woken up from sleep.
  • The pH of the umbilical cord is low. This indicates a higher concentration of acid that could be caused by oxygen deprivation.

It is possible that there will be no outward indications that your child suffered an anoxic brain injury during birth. If the umbilical cord is not clearly wrapped around your infant's neck at birth and causing strangulation or is not clearly twisted or compressed by the birth process, your doctor might have no reason to believe oxygen deprivation occurred. Likewise, if the birth process was not difficult or unduly prolonged, with the baby spending a long period of time in the birth canal, there might be no obvious reason to suspect oxygen deprivation. However, if your newborn has a low Apgar score immediately after birth, that should be a warning sign, as would be acidity of the umbilical cord. Ignoring such warning signs can result in delaying proper treatment, with tragic consequences.

What are the Long-Term Effects of Anoxic Brain Injuries at Birth?

When your brain is deprived of oxygen for more than a few minutes, there can be distinct negative impact on some mental and physical functions. This damage can be long-lasting, especially if the injury is not treated quickly. Detecting anoxic brain injuries in newborns can be more difficult than in older patients simply because the infant can't help the doctor. However, doctors can determine whether anoxic brain injury is possible or likely in a newborn by way of simple tests and observation, making it possible for the doctors to begin treatment quickly. The quicker treatment is provided, the higher the likelihood that the infant will recover from any damage from anoxic brain injury.

However, studies show that even relatively minor oxygen deprivation at birth can have long-term negative effects on childhood development. Predicting whether or how much an infant can recover from an anoxic brain injury at birth can be extremely difficult. Full recovery from anoxic brain injuries resulting from severe oxygen deprivation is unlikely, but in cases of minor anoxic brain injuries, partial or even full recovery is more firmly in the realm of possibility. The prognosis often depends upon the area or areas of the brain affected by the initial injury. Common long-term effects of anoxic brain injuries suffered at birth include:

  • Difficulty learning complex tasks
  • Speech deficiencies and disabilities
  • Delayed development of motor skills, or even a total absence of motor skills
  • Behavioral development problems
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty learning

Other potential long-term effects include epilepsy, autism, or other neurological disorders, including cerebral palsy.

Contact Slappey & Sadd Today to Schedule a Free Case Evaluation

If your child suffered an anoxic brain injury at birth, it is possible that her or she is entitled to compensation. Such failure could rise to the level of medical malpractice, and you should consult with an attorney to explore your options for recovering damages. Contact the attorneys at Slappey & Sadd for a free consultation to discuss your case by calling (404) 255-6677. Our attorneys serve the entire state of Georgia, including Smyrna, Decatur, and Marietta. You also can reach us through our online contact form.

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