Infant Oxygen Deprivation Not Always The Cause of Brain Damage

When people think of infant brain damage, usually one of this first things that comes to mind is infant oxygen deprivation.  Although infant oxygen loss accounts for some brain damage causes, a new study reveals that maternal infections may play a bigger part than most people think.

The study included experts in pediatrics, neurology, fetal-maternal medicine, and obstetrics.  What researchers found is that infant brain damage, in some cases, is the result of maternal infection during pregnancy and sometimes before conception.

Oxygen Deprivation and Brain Damage Study Information

The study, “Neonatal Encephalopathy and Neurologic Outcome” is an updated version of a previous study conducted in 2003. However, the 2003 study, which also focused on the cause of infant brain damage, mostly targeted infant oxygen deprivation and asphyxia.  In contrast, the new study focuses on maternal infection and how certain types of infection increase the risk of infant brain damage.  In addition, another key point of the study is the advances in diagnosis and treatment options.

Some of the main maternal infections found to play a part in infant brain damage include:

  • Infections in the fetal membranes
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Abnormalities with the placenta
  • Bleeding during pregnancy
  • Infant stroke during birth

In fact, according to the previous study, asphyxiation and loss of oxygen in infants during birth only accounts for 10 percent or less of all infant brain damage cases.

Determining the Cause of Infant Brain Damage

When determining if infant oxygen deprivation is the main culprit, there are several factors to consider, including:

  • A low Apgar score between 5 to 10 minutes after delivery
  • Acidemia in the umbilical cord artery
  • Failure of any major organ
  • An MRI scan showing patterns for cerebral palsy

If the aforementioned symptoms aren’t present at birth, then there is a good chance that maternal infections may have played a major role in the brain damage.  The good news, however, is that if maternal infections are diagnosed and treated in time, there is less risk for infant brain damage.  Other infections that increase the risk of infant brain damage include:

  • Rubella: Pregnant women should consent to rubella testing. If not yet pregnant, women who have never had a rubella vaccination should get one immediately.
  • Syphilis: Syphilis is usually treated with a penicillin IM injection. A physician should detect and treat syphilis immediately.
  • Varicella: Also known as chickenpox, varicella is dangerous who those who haven’t been vaccinated, especially adults. If you haven’t been vaccinated, tell your physician right away.

Keep in mind that physicians are responsible for detecting, diagnosing and treating maternal infections.

Have Questions about Infant Oxygen Deprivation?

If your child has suffered the effects of infant oxygen deprivation, you likely have many questions.  Did your doctor neglect to provide proper care during pregnancy?  Did a maternal infection cause an injury of any kind, including brain damage?  What should I do now?

If you have any of these or other questions, you have the right to obtain legal guidance.  If a healthcare provider is responsible for your child’s injury, you may be able to pursue a claim for compensation. Get answers and learn more by contacting Birth Injury Guide.

Call us toll free at 1-877-415-6603, or complete our online form to get free information.

Sam Uribe

Written By Sam Uribe

Sam Uribe is a researcher and writer. She lends her expertise to the team at Birth Injury Guide to provide up-to-date and relevant content that clients can count on.