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New guidelines aim to curb brain-related birth injuries


Many residents of New Haven, Connecticut, know that an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure. That is the reason why many expectant parents choose to give birth under the supervision of medical professionals. Unfortunately, childbirth poses many risks to the well-being of the child and the mother.

To prevent brain damage in newborn babies, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have released the updated guidelines on neonatal encephalopathy, including assessing every possible factor that leads to the development of the newborn's brain disorder or injury.

In 2003, recommendations focused on determining whether birth asphyxia -- the lack of oxygen during at birth -- caused brain injury, but several factors can lead to the newborn baby's brain injury, which can occur even before a pregnant patient arrives at the hospital or the delivery room. However, brain damage can also likely occur during labor and delivery. The recent release advises doctors to consider other possible causes of neonatal brain trauma, including problems with the placenta, issues during birth and the mother's medical history.

The initiative aims to curb preventable brain-related birth injuries in the future. The release provides a guide on evaluating babies who appear encephalopathic at birth, identify safety issues and administer any corrective measures. The guidelines also include advancement in treating brain injury in newborn babies, including neonatal hypothermia treatment and newborn brain imaging.

Birth injury can also occur because of doctor or hospital negligence. Unfortunately, birth trauma can have a long-lasting impact on the child's health and the family's finances because of substantial medical costs and funeral expenses if the baby dies. The baby's family may seek compensation from the negligent hospital or health care provider by filing a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Source: The Inquirer, "Spotting Cause of Newborn Brain Injury Could Aid Prevention, Report Says," April 3, 2014

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