A new report focusing 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 such report on infant brain damage since a previous study done in 2003.
Infant Brain Injury Study Information
According to the study, there are a number of reasons that brain injury occurs 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
- Hypoxic ischemic injury
- Genetic disorders
- Metabolic disorders
This new study focuses on the reasons behind the conditions that cause infant brain damage. It further focuses on 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 in the study, neonatal hypothermia, 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. This cooling helps prevent and/or reduce the problems associated with long-term brain damage and cognitive disorders.
New Research Offers Promise for Preventing Infant Brain Injuries
Birth injury advocates believe this study is a positive step forward. It has less strict guidelines when compared with the 2003 study. Furthermore, 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 for birth injury prevention stated.
Researchers on the study didn’t comment on the legal aspect of birth injuries. They did, however, say that the results are more positive than ever in 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).