According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is the leading cause of permanent disability and death in children and adolescents in the U.S. Children between the ages of 0-4, including newborn infants, and teenagers between the ages of 15 and 19, are at the greatest risk. In the age range that includes newborn infants, TBI results in around 2,685 deaths per year, 37,000 hospitalizations, and 435,000 emergency room visits. Because the effects of TBI may be long-term in nature, and developmental delays may not become apparent for years, TBI is often not immediately diagnosed. TBI may be caused by trauma during delivery, including blunt force trauma to the head due to the use of instrumentation, prolonged labor, fetal distress, and oxygen deprivation.
If you believe your child is suffering from TBI because of trauma that occurred during childbirth, you should consult with an experienced attorney. Charles H. Thronson, Attorney at Law is a seasoned birth injury advocate in Utah who can advise you what your next steps should be.
Immediate Symptoms of TBI After Delivery
There may be some immediate symptoms of TBI that are detectable shortly after delivery that are apparent from the infant’s appearance. An abnormally large forehead or abnormally shaped spine may be indicators of brain trauma, as well as distorted facial features or unusually small head sizes. Additionally, an infant with brain injury may present with difficulties in focusing its eyes, the onset of seizures, or stiffness in the neck.
Other symptoms may present as temperament issues. These may include excessive crying or difficulties with feeding. The infant may present with difficulty with sleeping, particularly while lying down, or being excessively fussy without any apparent reason.
Long-Term Symptoms and Developmental Delays
According to a study by the National Institutes of Health, there is strong evidence that very young children less than two years of age may be vulnerable to the negative long-term effects of TBI as compared with older children. These children, including infants who suffer TBI during delivery, are at a high risk for pervasive cognitive deficits and behavioral issues. These include deficits in motor, visual processing, and receptive and expressive language. Developmental steps pertaining to attention and concentration, memory and information processing, impulse control, and communication may be missed by growing children who suffered TBI as infants. At times, the damage of TBI does not become obvious until the child enters a school and a learning disability is suspected and diagnosed. It may also manifest in more obvious ways with learning disabilities and autism. TBI may also result in children experiencing spatial disorientation, changes in visual or auditory perception, and greater pain sensitivity.
Aside from cognitive symptoms and developmental delays, infants who grow up with TBI may also exhibit physical symptoms such as extreme fatigue, sleeping difficulties, the onset of paralysis, and tremors in the extremities. They may also miss physical developmental milestones such as crawling, pulling themselves up with little to no assistance, learning to walk and run, or learning to hold things firmly and without dropping.
Treatment of the immediate injury, though serious, may be less daunting than treatment of TBI’s long-term effects on children. TBI may require extensive physical and occupational therapy, medication that promotes increased concentration and diffuses aggressive behaviors, and the use of adaptive devices to assist with independent living.
If you have an infant that suffered Traumatic Brain Injury during delivery that resulted in long-term disabilities and developmental delays, you may be able to obtain compensation if the hospital staff that cared for you was negligent in their duties. Charles H. Thronson, Attorney at Law, is a seasoned advocate in Utah with years of experience in pursuing claims against medical professionals for birth injuries. Do not hesitate to contact our firm today for an initial consultation by calling (800) 532-0021 or by completing our online form.