Neurological problems in babies can occur for a variety of reasons. In some cases, neurological problems are congenital, or occurring before birth. In other cases, prematurity or difficulties during delivery can result in brain injuries resulting in neurological problems. The most common forms of neurological problems and related conditions in babies include:
- Asphyxia (oxygen deprivation at birth): Asphyxia occurs when the infant is deprived of oxygen before, during, or after birth.
- Seizures: Seizures are a common neurological problem for infants, and can range in severity depending on the exact cause.
- Hemorrhage: Hemorrhages can occur in various parts of the brain, and can range in severity depending on the size of the area affected by bleeding. Intraventricular hemorrhages are common forms of hemorrhage experienced by infants.
- Cerebrovascular Malformations: Malformations of certain parts of the brain, such as the Galen vein, can cause serious neurological problems.
- Hydrocephalus: Hydrocephalus occurs when fluid builds up inside the infant’s brain.
- Neural Tube Defects: These injuries affect the spinal cord and brain, leading to conditions such as spina bifida.
- Periventricular Leukomalacia (PVL): This injury occurs when the white tissue of the brain dies or is damaged. This is generally associated with premature births, difficult births, or infection in the womb.
Effects of Neurological Problems in Babies
Because an infant’s brain is so soft and delicate, neurological problems can cause permanent damage. While minor injuries often can be treated with relatively small long-term effects, many serious injuries can result in a lifetime of specialized care. The long-term effects of neurological problems in babies include:
- Developmental delays requiring speech, occupational, and behavioral therapies
- One or more forms of epilepsy requiring medication
- Long-term difficulties with physical mobility and flexibility
- Continuation of specialized medical care, possibly including surgeries
Neurological problems in babies can occur for numerous reasons, and can have a wide range of effects on the infant and his or her family. Unfortunately, many brain injuries sustained by infants are due to negligent care or mistakes during the labor and delivery process. It is critical that healthcare professionals recognize risks and danger and act quickly and appropriately to help reduce the possibility of long-term damage.