What Causes A Perinatal Stroke Brain Injury in Newborns?

brain injury in newborn in PA

A perinatal stroke is a type of brain injury that occurs in babies around the time of birth, often leading to severe and lifelong disabilities. If your child suffered a perinatal stroke, you may be struggling to understand how and why this tragic event occurred. This post will explore the potential causes and risk factors for perinatal strokes.

Raynes & Lawn Trial Lawyers has decades of experience guiding clients through birth injury cases. Our talented and dedicated attorneys can give you personalized and strategic attention. Call our offices today at 1-800-535-1797 for your free consultation. 

Understanding Perinatal Stroke

Perinatal stroke refers to a disruption in blood flow to a baby’s brain that happens between 20 weeks of pregnancy and up to 28 days after birth. This decreased blood and oxygen supply damages brain tissue, most commonly in the cerebral cortex and basal ganglia regions that control movement, speech, vision, and learning. Perinatal strokes are a leading cause of cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and cognitive impairments in children.

Types of Perinatal Stroke

There are two main categories of perinatal stroke – ischemic and hemorrhagic. Ischemic strokes, which make up around 80% of cases, occur when a blood clot blocks an artery in the brain. Hemorrhagic strokes happen when a blood vessel ruptures and bleeds into the brain tissue. Both result in damaged brain cells and potential permanent disabilities for the child.

Maternal Risk Factors

Certain maternal health conditions and complications during pregnancy can increase the chances of a baby having a perinatal stroke. Preeclampsia, a pregnancy disorder involving high blood pressure, doubles the risk of perinatal stroke. Gestational diabetes, blood clotting disorders, and infections like chorioamnionitis are also linked to higher stroke risk in newborns. Babies whose mothers are older than 40 or have a history of infertility and IVF have increased perinatal stroke rates as well.

Placental Risk Factors

Problems with the placenta, which nourishes the baby during pregnancy, can disrupt blood flow to the brain and trigger a perinatal stroke. Placental abruption, where the placenta partially or fully separates from the uterus before delivery, is a significant risk factor. Placental insufficiency, when the placenta doesn’t deliver adequate oxygen and nutrients, can also compromise fetal brain development. Umbilical cord abnormalities like knots or prolapse may contribute to perinatal strokes, too.

Labor and Delivery Complications

Difficulties during the birthing process are a significant cause of perinatal stroke and brain damage in babies. Prolonged or arrested labor stresses the fetus and can restrict blood and oxygen flow to the brain. Abnormal fetal heart rate, umbilical cord compression, and uterine rupture are dangerous signs of fetal distress. Forceps and vacuum extractors used in assisted deliveries can also cause head trauma and brain bleeding in newborns. 

Infant Risk Factors

Specific characteristics of the baby can make a perinatal stroke more likely, even in an otherwise healthy pregnancy. Male gender, premature birth before 37 weeks, and low birth weight under 5.5 pounds are top risk factors. Babies with congenital heart defects, blood disorders like sickle cell anemia, and bacterial infections such as meningitis are also highly vulnerable to brain injury. Twins and multiples have more excellent perinatal stroke rates compared to single births.

When Medical Negligence Causes Perinatal Stroke

Some perinatal strokes are unpreventable, but far too many happen because of substandard medical care during pregnancy, labor, and delivery. Failure to diagnose and treat maternal infections, diabetes, or preeclampsia; not properly monitoring fetal heart rate and distress; and delaying emergency C-sections when needed are all examples of negligence that can lead to a baby’s brain injury.

If your child’s perinatal stroke occurred because a doctor or hospital didn’t provide appropriate care, you may have grounds for a medical malpractice claim. An experienced perinatal brain injury attorney can review your case and advise you of your legal options for pursuing justice and financial recovery for your child’s current and future needs.

Frequently Asked Questions About Perinatal Stroke

  1. What are the chances of a baby recovering from a perinatal stroke? 

While some infants make a full recovery, the majority experience permanent neurological deficits and disabilities after a perinatal stroke. Outcomes depend on the severity and location of the brain injury. Prompt diagnosis and early interventions like physical, occupational, and speech therapy can help maximize a child’s functioning and quality of life.

  1. Can a perinatal stroke be detected before birth?

Perinatal strokes are challenging to diagnose prenatally, but certain red flags like placental anomalies or an abnormal fetal heart rate may signal a baby is at risk. Prenatal brain imaging with ultrasound or fetal MRI may reveal evidence of stroke in some cases. Most often, symptoms of a perinatal stroke don’t appear until hours or days after birth.

  1. How does a perinatal stroke affect a child’s development?

A perinatal stroke can impact a child’s physical, cognitive, and social-emotional development in both the short and long term. Common effects include motor impairments like cerebral palsy, speech and language delays, vision and hearing problems, learning disabilities, ADHD, and behavioral issues. The severity of deficits varies widely. With proper treatment and support, many children make meaningful progress in their development after a perinatal stroke.

  1. Is a perinatal stroke considered a birth injury from medical malpractice?

A perinatal stroke may be the result of medical negligence if healthcare providers fail to recognize and address maternal or fetal risk factors during pregnancy and delivery. Inadequate prenatal care, mismanagement of labor complications, and delays in performing a C-section when medically necessary can all contribute to preventable brain damage. If negligence played a role, parents may have a viable birth injury claim with the help of a qualified brain injury lawyer.

  1. What is the statute of limitations for pursuing a perinatal stroke brain injury lawsuit?

The time limit for filing a perinatal stroke lawsuit varies by state law. The statute of limitations in Pennsylvania usually allows claims until the child’s 20th birthday. However, it’s advisable to consult with a brain injury attorney as soon as you suspect your child’s stroke may have been caused by medical negligence. A lawyer can ensure your rights are protected, and timely action is taken.

Speak with a Perinatal Brain Injury Attorney

Learning your child suffered brain damage due to a perinatal stroke is heartbreaking. If you believe medical errors during pregnancy or birth may be to blame, contact a knowledgeable perinatal stroke attorney to discuss your family’s legal options. You may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, ongoing therapies, assistive devices, home modifications, pain and suffering, and more. 

A perinatal brain injury attorney can thoroughly investigate the circumstances of your child’s injury, gather evidence, consult medical experts, calculate damages, negotiate with insurance companies, and advocate for your family’s rights in pursuit of accountability and justice. 

Don’t hesitate to contact our talented and knowledgeable birth injury lawyers at Raynes & Lawn Trial Lawyers to protect your rights and your child’s future. Justice may be a long process, but the outcome and results our attorneys achieve can make a tremendous difference for your family. Call us today at 1(800) 535-1797 for more information.