Neonatal Seizures (Infant Seizures): Liability for a Birth Injury

One of the worst nightmares parents can encounter is to find out that their newborn child is suffering from neonatal seizures and birth injury. Seeing their child come down with a seizure is alarming for the parents. Many thoughts run in their head — what went wrong, what exactly is happening, and why. Unfortunately, a birth injury may be a probable cause of such seizures.

What Causes Neonatal Seizures?

Malformation, brain damage, chemical imbalances, and prolonged labor are some of the reasons for seizures among the newborns. These conditions create abnormal electrical patterns in the brain and can manifest in involuntary jerking movements. Though more often, seizures can be so subtle and not immediately detectable. Medical attention is paramount as neonatal seizures can cause permanent brain damage if not correctly treated soon.

Seizures can arise from a lot of causes, but here are the common factors:

Widely regarded as the most common cause of neonatal seizures, HIE accounts for 80% of neonatal seizure cases. HIE occurs due to the oxygen deprivation of the infant during the time of birth. Umbilical cord compression, uterine rupture or placenta previa, fetal distress, prolonged labor causes oxygen deprivation in an infant. These are common obstetrical risks that doctors and medical staff must watch out for and handle appropriately right away. Otherwise, they risk facing negligence.

  • Seizures from infection

Bacterial and viral infections like meningitis, encephalitis, Group B Streptococcus, cytomegalovirus, and herpes simplex virus can lead to neonatal seizures. This infection is usually transmitted to the infant during delivery as the baby passes through the birth canal. Doctors or healthcare providers have the responsibility to screen for and treat these kinds of infections during the mother’s pregnancy to prevent the infant from acquiring infections.

Traumatic brain injury in infants involves variables such as the size of the baby and the mother’s pelvis. Instruments used during delivery, like forceps and vacuum extractors, are also factors.

Doctors and medical staff should check and plan for obstetrical problems that could lead to brain injury in the infant. Also, the instruments must be used correctly at the right phase of delivery to prevent irreversible damage.

  • Seizures from prolonged second stage of labor

Second stage labor, the time when the mother is fully dilated until the baby is delivered, should not last more than four hours. Otherwise, it is considered a prolonged second stage, and a C-section is warranted. It could be negligence on the part of doctors when a C-section is not performed following a prolonged second stage.

Recognizing the Signs of Neonatal Seizures

Seizures are commonly associated with the sudden twitching of the face or eyes, and erratic motions of the limbs and body. The movement can range from mild and subtle to strong.

It is important to note that some of these are perfectly normal and harmless. But still, paying careful attention to when and how often it happens can make a big difference in saving your baby from a possible brain injury.

If your baby exhibits the following signs of a neonatal seizure, it is best to consult a doctor for immediate diagnosis and proper treatment:

  1. Random eye movements (blinking, twitching, fluttering, rolling up, opening, and staring)
  2. Unusual and rhythmic twitching of the body, including the face, tongue, arms, and legs
  3. Stopping or long pauses in breathing (apnea)
  4. Muscle stiffening and turning the head or eyes to one side
  5. A single and swift movement of the limbs or whole body

What to Do in Case of Seizure

When left undiagnosed and untreated, the baby can suffer from long-term or permanent issues. Cerebral palsy and mental retardation are among the worst. That is why taking immediate action is vital to an infant’s well-being.

When an infant is suffering from a seizure, it is advisable to do the following safety actions:

  1. Stay with the infant and wait until the seizure is over; time the length of the attack.
  2. Move any objects that may hurt and cause injury out of the way of the infant, especially the hard, heavy, and pointed ones.
  3. Place the infant on a soft surface and provide as much protection to the head as you can during a seizure.
  4. See to it that nothing goes into the infant’s mouth to avoid choking.
  5. Turn the infant on their side with the mouth pointing toward the ground to stop their saliva from blocking the airway.

Consult an Experienced Birth Injury Lawyer

Is your child suffering from neonatal seizure die to birth injury? Do you know someone whose child is suffering from a birth injury due to medical negligence? Our skilled and compassionate birth injury lawyers at The Clark Law Office can help.

While compensation can never fully redress the pain and suffering your baby and the whole family is going through, it can be a resource to get the urgent treatment your child needs. Call us today for a free legal consultation regarding your child’s case.

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