Hydrocephalus: Who May Be Liable for this Birth Injury?
As in other states, doctors and health workers in Michigan are expected to properly diagnose and provide treatment to patients, especially vulnerable ones like babies. One of the major medical conditions that doctors need to look out for when dealing with babies is hydrocephalus.
What is Hydrocephalus?
Hydrocephalus is characterized by flooding of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in the brain. The word itself translates to “water in the brain,” and it can be either a genetic abnormality or an acquired birth defect caused by complications during fetal development or the birthing process.
CSF is supposed to constantly circulate through the brain and spine and be absorbed into the bloodstream after. In the case of hydrocephalus, however, the normal flow of the CSF gets blocked, rendering it unable to be absorbed in the bloodstream. It results in a build-up of CSF in the ventricles, causing internal pressure in the brain.
Types of Hydrocephalus
Hydrocephalus can either be congenital or acquired. In congenital hydrocephalus, a genetic or developmental issue is why this defect is present in the child. Usually, congenital hydrocephalus can be diagnosed during pregnancy. Acquired hydrocephalus, on the other hand, only occurs after or during childbirth due to head trauma, injury, or other related medical issues.
Regardless of the type of hydrocephalus a child has, a doctor still has the responsibility to make sure that the patient gets treated properly. Additionally, even before childbirth, the assigned doctor should be able to pinpoint if there’s a possibility that the child is at risk for hydrocephalus.
Causes of Hydrocephalus
While congenital hydrocephalus can only result from genetic abnormalities, acquired hydrocephalus is another story. Numerous factors can affect the presentation of hydrocephalus in individuals, especially newborns.
Here are some of the most common causes of acquired hydrocephalus:
Tumors in the Central Nervous System
Intracranial hemorrhages, which often result in hydrocephalus, happen due to existing tumors in the central nervous system.
Birth traumas directly cause most acquired hydrocephalus cases in newborns. Due to traumatic birth injuries, brain bleeds happen, resulting in hydrocephalus in newborns.
Apart from trauma, there are other risk factors and causes that people should be aware of in relation to brain bleed:
- Infections – Infections like herpes encephalitis and meningitis can cause brain bleeds.
- Prematurity – Babies who are born premature can be at risk for hydrocephalus because they have underdeveloped vessels that can easily break or rupture due to injuries. If babies experience a prolonged and traumatic birth, they can be vulnerable to intracranial hemorrhages that lead to hydrocephalus.
- Delivery using specific medical tools – If a child gets delivered with the help of vacuum extractors or forceps, there’s a possibility that they may experience brain bleeds. This is especially true in cases of abnormal fetal presentation, macrosomia, and cephalopelvic disproportion.
- Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy – Problems could arise if the oxygenated blood flow to the baby’s brain gets blocked. HIE is a type of brain damage that directly results from a lack of oxygenated blood in the brain.
Since multiple factors can cause hydrocephalus, it is helpful to know which can aggravate or increase the possibility of acquiring one. By doing so, doctors would be able to prevent these things from happening, and parents would be able to understand better what could have caused the hydrocephalus.
Signs and Symptoms Hydrocephalus
When it comes to addressing hydrocephalus, early detection is always important. Here are some of the most common signs and symptoms of hydrocephalus you should be aware of:
Children with congenital hydrocephalus often show symptoms, such as shortness of breath, stiff arm and leg muscles, the unwillingness of the child to bend forward/backward or move the neck, drowsiness, irritability, delayed developmental stages, and tense and bulging fontanel, among others.
Babies who developed acquired hydrocephalus after birth often show symptoms, such as bowel incontinence, seizures or fits, eyesight issues, disorientation, lack of appetite nausea, vomiting, walking difficulties, and urinary incontinence, among others.
Doctors should be able to see these signs and respond accordingly.
Dealing with Hydrocephalus Birth Injuries in Michigan
Regardless of whether it’s genetic or acquired, doctors have the responsibility to ensure that hydrocephalus cases get treated to the best of their ability. This includes early detection for congenital hydrocephalus and early treatment and diagnosis for acquired hydrocephalus.
If you think your doctor has caused or exacerbated the injuries resulting in your child’s hydrocephalus, you can seek accountability. Contact dependable birth injury lawyers like The Clark Office and let’s discuss how we can help you deal with hydrocephalus birth injuries in Michigan.