Newborn Brain Injury Study Results Released by Physicians

A new report that focused on newborn brain injury and other birth injuries was recently released by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). This is first updated report on the subject since a previous 2003 study. 

According to the results of the study, there are a myriad of reasons that newborn brain injury may occur during and shortly after birth. Entitled “Neonatal Encephalopathy and Neurologic Outcome,” the study researched a wide spectrum of conditions that may affect the brain during birth. Some of the most common reasons for these types of injuries include: 

  • Oxygen deprivation
  • Genetic disorders
  • Metabolic disorders
  • Infections
  • Inflammations

The new study focused on the reasons behind the conditions that cause infant brain damage and what can be done to prevent them in the future. According to Mary E. D’Alton, MD, of the Columbia University Medical Center in New York , by performing a root-cause analysis, experts may be able to understand how to prevent brain damage and other injuries, such as infant stroke, before they happen. 

In fact, a new medical milestone is mentioned in the study that may be extremely beneficial in preventing birth injuries. Neonatal hypothermia, a relatively new form of treatment, has seen success so far. The treatment consists of cooling a newborn’s body temperature for up to 48 hours after birth, which in turn helps prevent and/or reduce the problems associated with long-term brain damage and cognitive disorders.

Birth injury advocates feel that study is a positive step forward and has less strict guidelines when compared with the 2003 study, and it touches more upon brain damage that results from physician and/or medical staff negligence. The 2003 study focused solely on low oxygen levels, leaving out other scenarios that could cause brain damage. If an infant suffers injuries due to mistakes during the birthing process, the results are often catastrophic, leaving infants with lifelong health problems.

“Those children can be so badly injured that they require 24 hour per day skilled nursing care and that level of care is not covered under any health insurance plan. The current criteria is more realistic. You have to look at the entire picture of the child in a holistic manner,” an attorney who advocates birth injury prevention stated. 

Although the researchers on the study didn’t comment on the legal aspect of birth injuries, they did say that the results are more positive than ever when it comes to helping understand birth injuries and brain damage.

The full report is located in the May 2014 issue of Pediatrics, a monthly publication of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).