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Austin Medical Malpractice Blog

Spina bifida: types and symptoms

Spina bifida is a birth defect where the spine does not grow around the nerves of the spinal column, leaving the nerves vulnerable to injury. Expectant mothers in Texas should know that they can reduce the risk for spina bifida by as much as 70 percent by taking folic acid supplements. Doctors can screen for the condition as early as 21 weeks into a pregnancy.

There are three types of spina bifida, the most common being spina bifida occulta. This affects one or more vertebrae without any apparent damage to the spinal cord. Around 40 percent of those who develop it do not know that they have it although it can be detected via ultrasounds, MRIs and other medical imaging tests.

Is postpartum depression serious?

As we have discussed in numerous posts on this blog, complications during and after childbirth can have lasting effects. Texas residents may believe all birth injuries are physical. However, some pregnancy and birth complications can be emotional, yet are just as devastating as a physical injury.

It is common for women to experience overwhelming and unexplainable feelings of sadness and confusion for a few weeks after having a baby, as the Mayo Clinic explains. People often refer to this as the “baby blues,” and it is usually the result of changing hormones and the stress of adjusting to having a new baby. Usually, the baby blues go away after a couple of months, at most. Unfortunately, some mothers experience something much worse than the baby blues. Postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis are serious emotional conditions that can last for months after childbirth or become a chronic issue. The complications of postpartum depression can include the following:

  • Pervasive feelings of sadness, hopelessness and desperation
  • Difficulty bonding with the baby
  • Trouble interacting with other family members and doing everyday tasks
  • Suicidal thoughts or thoughts about harming the baby

An overview of umbilical cord compression

Umbilical cord compression is a condition with serious health risks. Various injuries can result in pressure being exerted on the umbilical cord, but the most common cause of compression, Texas residents should know, is umbilical cord relapse. This occurs when the umbilical cord slips ahead of the infant before birth and becomes compressed in the birth canal.

When the umbilical cord is compressed, it results in oxygen, blood and nutrient deprivation. If left untreated, it can end in fetal heart abnormalities, brain damage, or even death. The baby may also suffer lacerations, bruising, and swelling if an emergency C-section is performed.

Birth injuries from drug-related negligence

Texas parents who have a child with a condition stemming from a birth injury may wonder if they were negligent in any way. Actually, many birth injuries are the fault of the health care providers, and they are frequently drug-related. Perhaps the wrong drug is administered, or the wrong dosage or the right dosage at the wrong time.

Anesthesia-related negligence is one example. A pregnant mother may undergo surgery in an emergency, or she might undergo a C-section. In either case, the anesthesiologist is responsible for giving the right kind of anesthesia in the right dosage.

Negligence by doctors, nurses and midwifes can cause injury

Childbirth in Texas should be a joyous time for expectant parents. However, complications can develop with life-long consequences for the baby or the mother in labor. When the injuries are due to medical malpractice, the stress can be overwhelming.

When a child is born at a hospital, negligence can be caused by the physician, a nurse, an attendant or another member of medical staff. For example, medications may be given to the mother or child depending on circumstances. If the wrong dosage or incorrect medication is given, serious adverse reactions can be the result. An act as simple as lifting the infant improperly can have long-term effects for the child. If the child is raised by the arms without support to the back or head, it can cause a condition called Erb's palsy.

Overview of infant brain ischemia

Texas parents who are expecting the birth of a child should know about a potential birth injury called infant brain ischemia. Brain ischemia is a starving of the brain due to lack of blood and oxygen. It is like the opposite of a brain hemorrhage, and both result in brain damage. Symptoms can include vertigo, loss of coordination, blindness in one eye and weakness in one arm or one leg, one side of the body or both sides.

Infant brain ischemia is harder to diagnose since infants cannot communicate effectively, but it can be seen in infants who are lethargic, who lose consciousness or who do not move the affected limb(s). The shock to the brain caused by ischemia could also lead to seizures.

Infant epilepsy: Signs, causes and treatment

Having a baby with any type of health issue is scary. One common complication in infants is epilepsy. More than 326,000 children younger than 15 in the U.S. have this neurological disorder. A baby who has epilepsy may be prone to frequent seizures during the first few years of life. 

Dealing with and confronting this reality is hard, but necessary. Here is some important information regarding the symptoms, causes and treatment for infant epilepsy. 

Infant torticollis may result from traumatic birth

Infant torticollis, or "wry neck," is a common neck condition that occurs in approximately three out of every 100 babies in Texas and across the United States. It can be congenital and occur due to the baby's positioning in the uterus, or it may occur as the result of traumatic birth. In rare cases, it occurs later in childhood due to an injury or illness. Though the condition is treatable, it requires a prompt diagnosis in order to begin treatment as soon as possible.

When a baby has infant torticollis, his or her neck will be twisted, which causes the head to tip to one side and the chin to point up. It is often initially diagnosed by a parent or by a doctor during a routine exam. Because newborns don't have much neck control, the condition may not be noticeable until the baby is six to eight weeks old and holding his or her head up on their own.

Fractured and broken bones in infants

In Texas and across the US, it is not uncommon for babies to incur broken or fractured bones during the delivery process. While these injuries are usually not life-threatening, they do require the proper treatment, or they will lead to permanent issues. Symptoms of infant broken bones include swelling, inability to move the broken limb and continual crying. Symptoms of infant fractures include the above as well as redness, bruising and deformity.

Clavicle fractures are the most common form of infant fracture. The affected side of the shoulder may seem to droop, and a lump may appear several weeks after the injury. Both fractures and broken bones can usually be prevented through diligent care during labor and delivery. A stressful birth is often behind these injuries.

Causes and complications of newborn jaundice

Some Texas mothers give birth to babies who develop jaundice. For many infants, jaundice is normal and is not serious. It usually will go away on its own in a week or two although it may require careful monitoring. Usually, jaundice is just a sign that the child's liver has not quite started to work at full capacity yet. However, there are also circumstances in which jaundice may happen for other reasons and in which it can become very serious.

The danger with jaundice is that instead of going away, it sometimes turns into a condition called hyperbilirubemia and then into kernicterus. Under normal circumstances, jaundice decreases as the liver begins processing bilirubin correctly. When this does not happen and bilirubin levels continue to climb, the bilirubin could move into the brain and cause a brain injury. Even at this point, it is possible that the long-term consequences will not be serious, but in other cases, kernicterus could lead to such conditions as cerebral palsy, loss of sight or hearing, intellectual disabilities or death.

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