What is Infant Brain Ischemia?
Brain Ischemia is when brain damage occurs from reduced blood flow. Essentially, the brain is being starved from the blood flow it needs –which is the opposite of a brain hemorrhage. When a brain hemorrhage floods the brain, the brain cells die, which is the same outcome of brain ischemia when the brain cells have been starved from blood and oxygen for too long.
What are the Symptoms of Infant Brain Ischemia?
When a patient has brain ischemia, the brain is basically being starved to death. When the brain starts to shut down, it generally starts in the affected area and then branches out from there. Some of the symptoms may be related to where in the brain the ischemia is located, but generally symptoms include blindness in one eye, dizziness or vertigo, loss of coordination, and weakness. The weakness can be felt in one arm or leg, on one whole side of the body, or on both sides of the body.
When brain ischemia happens to an infant, the symptoms may be harder to ascertain because they cannot communicate effectively. Instead, you may find that the symptoms for brain ischemia reflect other brain injuries, and the child may display symptoms such as lethargy, loss of consciousness, loss of movement in the affected limbs or parts of the body, or even seizures, as untreated ischemia could cause an energy crisis in the brain.
What Tests Confirm Infant Brain Ischemia?
Because an infant may reflect the same symptoms as any other kind of brain injury, the best course of action is to test the infant with medical images that can look at a number of brain conditions.
The most common types of tests used to determine brain ischemia are a head CT scan or an MRI. These tests both take density-rich photographs that show what the brain looks like and what is happening inside the brain. Other tests, such as an Electroencephalogram (EEG), can track the electric activity; however, this can only indicate if a stroke is impending, whereas the other scans can indicate the blood flow and an image of the nerves.
What Causes Infant Brain Ischemia?
There are several different causes of brain ischemia in all age groups of patients. Some patients have congenital heart diseases that include brain ischemia in a list of potential side effects. Other causes include sickle cell anemia, compressed blood vessels, blood clots, low blood pressure as a result of a heart attack, tumors, or other pathological heart conditions that lead to a heart attack or stroke.
While these cases are generally conditions that cause brain ischemia in adults, these conditions in the mother can be transferred to the baby. Other reasons that an infant can have a brain ischemia include maternal infection, placental disorders, dehydration, oxygen deprivation, and birth asphyxia.
Is Infant Brain Ischemia Preventable?
Since brain ischemia is a brain injury to the infant, in many instances, it can be prevented. Even if the mother has a number of disorders or conditions that are congenital or unpreventable, it is the doctor’s responsibility to monitor the baby and to make sure that it doesn’t affect the child. Causes of brain ischemia that are particularly preventable include oxygen deprivation and dehydration, and the physician should be treating the mother so that maternal infection doesn’t infect the child as well.