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Austin Medical Malpractice Blog

Childhood seizure disorder attributed to genetic cause

A childhood seizure disorder that affects 1.2 in every 1,000 newborns in Texas and across the United States has been found to have a genetic cause. Early infantile epileptic encephalopathy, or EIEE, is a neurological disorder that typically appears within the first 10 days of life although some cases don't present until the newborn is 3 months of age. Babies with EIEE experience frequent seizures that can cause developmental delays, psychomotor impairments, intellectual impairments and early death.

The condition causes seizures in infants to occur anywhere from once a week to 50 times a day. Though most cases had previously been attributed to birth injury or brain malformations, researchers suspected that the remaining cases had a genetic cause. A team of researchers at the University of Utah developed tools that uncovered the genetic cause of the disorder.

Understanding hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy

Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy is a dangerous birthing issue that can affect a child for the rest of his or her life. Information from the Florida Neonatal Neurologic Network has found that HIE occurs in between every three and 20 births out of every 1,000. 

HIE occurs due to a deprivation of oxygen to the infant's brain. Brain cells sustain immense injuries, and while some infants can recover, others do not. There are various ways HIE can occur, including preeclampsia, maternal diabetes combined with a vascular disease, extreme fetal anemia and lung abnormalities. It is critical for both parents and doctors to remain aware of this possibility to take proper preventive actions. 

Umbilical cord prolapse: what to know about it

Umbilical cord prolapse is a rare condition that expectant mothers in Texas should learn about. It arises during labor when the umbilical cord enters the birth canal with or before the baby. This can give rise to an even more serious condition where the umbilical cord is compressed.

Umbilical cord compression occurs in 1 out of 10 pregnancies. While it can occur before labor when the baby starts to move vigorously, it usually occurs during labor and tends to be only a mild concern. In serious cases, though, it will reduce oxygen and blood flow to the baby. This leads to changes in heart rate and blood pressure.

Black women face serious disparities in maternal mortality

While many people think that maternal death in childbirth is largely a historical phenomenon, in many cases, this is strikingly untrue. Mothers in the United States have the highest maternal mortality rate in the developed world, and there is a particularly concerning racial disparity affecting black women. Black women in Texas and across the country are three to four times more likely than white women to die or be severely injured due to pregnancy and childbirth complications.

In New York City, black mothers are a full 12 times more likely to die than white mothers. It is also notable that this racial disparity in maternal mortality continues despite income differences. In fact, black college graduates are more likely to suffer severe birth complications than white women who did not graduate from high school.

Negligence in birth injury cases

Texas parents can seek legal recourse if injuries or other forms of medical malpractice occur during the birth of a child. It's important to note that negligence may not be restricted to medical doctors. Other medical personnel and entities, including nurses, health care facilities, pharmaceutical companies, anesthesiologists and more, might be held liable for what occurred during the birth.

Hospitals, which can be public or private corporations, may be sued directly to be held financially liable for their medical negligence. They could also be considered vicariously liable for the negligence enacted by their employees.

Common birth injuries and their treatments

You obviously want your baby to arrive in this world without experiencing any kind of trauma that is not natural and expected. Unfortunately, birth injuries are not unusual for newborns. The good news is that babies are resilient. They are fast healers, and parents can often expect a full recovery from most birth injuries that involve fractures or nerve damage.

However, some birth injuries occur needlessly and can be permanent. The accompanying health issues could last a lifetime, along with the expense involved. Here are some injuries that are among the most common during childbirth.

Data shows that inducing labor at 39 weeks averts complications

Medical researchers have recently conducted an important study that may be of interest to expecting mothers in Texas. After analyzing a group of healthy first-time mothers, researchers found that those who were artificially stimulated, or induced, at 39 weeks were at a lower risk for birth-related complications than those induced at 41 weeks.

In particular, it averts the need for primary cesarean deliveries and decreases the chances of the baby being stillborn. Obstetricians usually recommend inducing labor at 39 weeks because the pregnancy is already considered late-term by then. At that stage, it becomes harder for the placenta to deliver essential nutrients and oxygen to the fetus, which can harm both the baby and the mother.

Caffeine and hypothermia to prevent cerebral palsy

Applying therapeutic hypothermia to Texas newborns who have been deprived of oxygen during birth can be an effective preventative treatment against cerebral palsy, according to a review study. The study also found that caffeine administered to preterm newborns who are being weaned from the use of assisted breathing machines can be useful. Newborns who were administered corticosteroids within their first weeks of life in order to prevent chronic lung disease had an increased chance of developing cerebral palsy.

The term cerebral palsy refers to a group of diseases that hamper posture and movement. As the most frequently occurring childhood physical disability, it is usually the result of factors that occurred during, before or after a birth that resulted in damage to a brain still in development.

Hypoxia: causes and treatments

Residents of Texas who know that their baby was injured sometime before, during or after delivery may want to learn all they can about a condition called hypoxia. This refers to a lack of oxygen at the tissue level and results in injury to the brain. If the baby is left untreated for too long, it can lead to permanent cognitive deficiencies, cerebral palsy or hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy.

There are differences between mild, moderate and severe hypoxia; babies run less of a risk for permanent disabilities if they have incurred a mild or moderate form of the condition. Various causes can be at work with neonatal hypoxia, including infection, umbilical cord injuries, placental insufficiency, which is the inability of the placenta to supply adequate oxygen to the baby, and shoulder dystocia, which happens when a baby's shoulder gets stuck in the mother's pubic bone during delivery.

Preeclampsia and pregnancy weight gain

Women in Texas who go through significant weight gain while they are pregnant for the first time have an increased chance of developing preeclampsia when giving birth. This is according to newly released research conducted on 62,000 women who had never given birth.

The Preeclampsia Foundation reports that an annual number of 10 million women will develop preeclampsia, a severe medical condition that often occurs during pregnancy and involves gestational high blood pressure. The condition causes the death of 76,000 pregnant women and a projected 500,000 infants every year.

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