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Austin Medical Malpractice Blog

An overview of periventricular leukomalacia

Premature infants are at high risk for incurring a birth injury known as periventricular leukomalacia. The injury causes areas around the ventricles, or fluid-filled cavities, of the brain to die. The resulting "holes" in the brain can cause issues with the nervous system and hinder the infant's development. Expectant mothers in Texas may want to know more.

Premature infants run the higher risk for PVL because the areas around the ventricles are especially fragile before 32 weeks of gestation. Two factors can increase that risk: infection around the time of delivery, and intraventricular hemorrhage. Blood flow changes around the ventricles are thought to be a prominent cause of PVL.

Will your child recover from a traumatic birth injury?

An easy pregnancy does not mean you are out of the woods quite yet. You still have to face labor and delivery, and unfortunately, things can go very wrong during the process.

If you have an unusually difficult time delivering your baby, you may want to watch out for traumatic birth injuries. Some of the most common can resolve very soon after delivery, or they may have long-lasting and permanent consequences.

Caput succedaneum: causes and symptoms

Expectant mothers in Texas may want to know about a birth injury called caput succedaneum. This refers to the swelling of an infant's head that may occur not long after delivery. Continual pressure on the infant's head during delivery, especially when there is a lot of pushing during labor, can cause this condition.

The risk for developing caput succedaneum depends on how much fluid is in the amniotic sac and for how long. If the amniotic sac membranes burst early during labor, or if fluid levels are low, then the mother's pelvic bones will exert pressure on the baby's head. The risk can also increase in the event that vacuum suction or forceps are used during delivery.

An overview of hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy

Between three and 20 full-term infants out of 1,000 live births are born with a condition called hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy. This refers to any dysfunction of the brain caused by a reduction in oxygen and blood going to the brain. Texas residents should know that among pre-term infants, 60% develop HIE.

Besides premature birth, there are several factors that can raise the risk for HIE, though the cause of HIE is never known in many cases. For example, the risk goes up when conditions like maternal diabetes, vascular disease and reduced blood flow to the placenta are present. It also goes up if there is an accident with the umbilical cord, bleeding or rupture of the placenta, head trauma or an infection like sepsis.

Symptoms and diagnosis of HELLP syndrome

Although it's not common, some pregnant women in Texas may suffer from a condition known as HELLP syndrome. It's important that HELLP is recognized because it can have a maternal mortality rate of 1.1% and an infant mortality rate of 10% to 60%.

Unfortunately, the symptoms of HELLP resemble a number of other conditions, and the symptoms may not appear until the woman has had the condition for several days. Signs include high blood pressure, severe headaches, edema and visual disturbances. Some of these are simply normal occurrences in pregnancy, so they may be missed. Worsening nausea and vomiting and abdominal pain are also symptoms. HELLP is associated with preeclampsia, but its symptoms may develop prior to any preeclampsia symptoms. It might also be confused with gallbladder disease and hepatitis among other conditions. To prevent misdiagnosis, physicians are encouraged to run tests for liver function and a variety of other blood tests to determine whether HELLP is the cause of these symptoms when they occur in the third trimester.

Intraventricular hemorrhage in premature babies

Intraventricular hemorrhage is a condition that frequently develops in newborns, especially those born more than 10 weeks early when their blood vessels are not fully developed. The condition refers to bleeding in the ventricles, or fluid-filled areas, of the brain. Texas residents should know that there are four grades of IVH. Grades 3 and 4 IVH can be severe, pressing on the brain tissue and even directly involving it.

Symptoms of IVH range from irregular breathing and changes in blood pressure to lethargy, a decrease in muscle reflexes and weak suck. Babies may even experience seizures. In grade 4 IVH, blood clots can form and cause fluid to build up. This is called hydrocephalus and results in a swelling in the head.

Erb's Palsy: causes and outlook

Brachial plexus injuries are a form of spinal trauma that can occur during childbirth. According to the American Association of Neuromuscular and Electrodiagnostic Medicine, these injuries account for about two of every 1000 births.

There are different types of BPIs based on which section of the spine sustains the most damage. Erb’s Palsy is the most common. It comes with a unique set of challenges that every new parent should be aware of.

An overview of Klumpke paralysis

Soon-to-be mothers in Texas may want to know about a rare birth injury called Klumpke paralysis. This paralysis is caused by injuries to the brachial plexus, a network of nerves extending from the spinal cord to the first rib and to the armpits. These nerves control movement in the shoulders, arms and hands.

These injuries, in turn, can be caused during a difficult delivery. The nerves may be stretched, scarred or torn. A tear may be at the spine, in which case it is called an avulsion, or it may be elsewhere, in which case it is referred to as a rupture.

Risks to mother and infant during vacuum extraction delivery

Vacuum extraction describes the use of a vacuum-powered suction cup during birth to aid the movement of an infant through the vagina during delivery. Women in Texas might be asked to consent to this procedure when their physicians deem the labor to be prolonged or if continued labor could jeopardize the health of the mother or infant. This procedure must be done in a birthing center or hospital capable of providing cesarean sections if the emergency surgery becomes necessary. Although uncommon, injuries to the mother or infant can result from vacuum extraction.

During the procedure, women might suffer damage to their genital tract and perineum tissues, including tears. In the near term, injuries could interfere with urination. Some women experience urinary and fecal incontinence, which may resolve or persist depending on the extent of damage.

What happens when preeclampsia is undiagnosed

Some pregnant women in Texas may be at risk for a condition known as preeclampsia. This is one of the main causes of illness and mortality worldwide among pregnant women and infants, but if caught in time, it can be monitored and treated.

In some cases, a failure to diagnose preeclampsia could be the result of medical malpractice. There are several risk factors that might alert a physician to be particularly mindful of the possibility. Preeclampsia is more likely in a first-time pregnancy and for women who are carrying more than one fetus. A family history of the condition or a history of some conditions, including kidney disease, migraines, and high blood pressure, increase the likelihood. Mothers who are older than 40 or younger than 20 or who are obese also have a greater preeclampsia risk.

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