Birth Injury Lawyer Explain Implications of Study on Cause of Fetal Brain Injury

Posted by thecplawyer on October 13th, 2016

A new study conducted by researchers at Loyola University Medical Center concludes that brain damage detected after birth in newborns is more the result of infections and anemia, not medical errors. The study looked at 32 full-term newborns who later developed cerebral palsy and mental retardation. Eighteen of the infants had chorioamnionitis – a bacterial infection that results in the child’s fetal membranes becoming inflamed – and the other 14 had severe anemia (insufficient blood supply the following birth). Examination of the children’s medical records appeared to rule out the possibility that the children’s brains had been injured prior to birth. Both conditions can be difficult to detect or predict prior to birth.

Where Should the Blame for Newborn Brain Injuries Be Placed?

Our Cerebral Palsy birth injury lawyers note that researchers believe that too much emphasis is being placed on the final two hours of a pregnancy as opposed to the thousands of other hours that make up a typical pregnancy. In other words, researchers believe that far more time and attention ought to be paid to detecting and preventing conditions like chorioamnionitis and anemia as opposed to assuming that brain injuries are always the result of medical malpractice or birth-related medical errors.

However, does this research absolve all medical practitioners in every case of liability if a newborn develops cerebral palsy or some other birth-related injury? Certainly not. Although there may be cases wherein a child’s brain injury is not the result of malpractice by the obstetrician, there are cases that indeed are caused by errors in the delivery room or during the pregnancy. What is more, it is not out of the realm of possibility for some cases of cerebral palsy to be due to both a bacterial infection or anemia as well as medical error.

Sharing the Blame for Birth Injuries

For example, suppose that an infant is diagnosed with cerebral palsy several months after his or her birth. The parents as well as the medical professionals, would next embark on a quest for information, seeking to uncover the cause of the child’s brain injuries and whether they could have been prevented. The investigation leads both the parents and the professionals back to one culprit – chorioamnionitis (a bacterial infection). While the professionals may wish that the inquiry would end here, it ought not to end with a blanket absolution for the professionals. The parents can – and should – press further, asking if the professionals performed reasonable and routine tests that could have detected the presence of the bacteria prior to birth. If there were signs or symptoms of chorioamnionitis and the doctor disregarded these signs without conducting any further investigation, this may be considered malpractice and subject the doctor to civil liability. (The converse is also true, though – if the doctor had no reason to suspect the fetus had developed a bacterial infection, or if the doctor performed routine and regular tests to uncover the presence of such infections and the tests showed a negative result, the doctor will likely not be found to have committed malpractice.

A Thorough Investigation is Needed to Uncover All Causes of a Birth Injury

Whatever one believes about the accuracy of the study’s conclusions, this should serve as a reminder that in the event of a birth-related injury or the development of cerebral palsy after birth, a thorough investigation should be conducted to uncover all of the factors and circumstances that contributed to the child’s cerebral palsy. Only then can the parents of the injured infant know where the blame for their child’s injuries should truly lie and hold those responsible accountable for their actions.

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