New tool aims to discover birth brain injuries quickly

The birth of a child should be a time of joy, but sometimes a traumatic birth can lead to complications causing birth injuries. Facing a wait to find out if your baby has suffered injury, potentially due to medical negligence, is arguably one of the hardest things a parent can endure.

A clinical trial is planned for a new tool developed by researchers at University College London. It is hoped that broadband near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) will give doctors the ability to assess brain injuries in babies without the need to wait until the infant is stable enough to have an MRI scan.

Essentially the technology would allow medical teams to shine red and infrared light into the head. This type of light is more able to penetrate the body and as such, the results are determined by the colour of the light that is reflected back. The reflected light is measured by sensors and the results are used to determine whether the cells in the brain are healthy or damaged.

The first few days after birth can be critical for determining what injury a newborn infant may have suffered, and it is hoped that this tool will enable doctors to make a much quicker diagnosis.

There are a number of conditions that can result from a brain injury sustained due to a traumatic birth including:

Cerebral Palsy

This is a condition affecting an individual’s ability to control movement and muscles. Cerebral Palsy is caused by the part of the brain responsible for controlling movement being permanently damaged, arising from problems during gestation, normally due to an infection, as a direct result of trauma during the birthing procedure or as the result of an impact and injury to the head in a child’s very early years. As the condition is not curable, it is particularly devastating for a family to be told of the diagnosis. Due to the nature of the condition and its significant impact on the child affected as well as the family, many families that have a child diagnosed with cerebral palsy, where medical negligence is suspected, contact a specialist cerebral palsy lawyer to seek financial compensation to help with the cost of life-long care, as well as to get important answers from the NHS Trust involved.

Forceps Delivery / Ventouse Delivery

This is an assisted birth using either metal forceps or suction to help the mother give birth. Whilst generally seen as a safe procedure, in very rare cases severe problems can arise and brain injuries can be sustained by a baby, such as a skull fracture or bleeding within the skull, with potential brain damage caused in the most serious instances. A less severe but no less distressing condition that can be caused is that of scarring due to the overly forceful use of forceps. If someone experiences any problems after their assisted birth, it may be worth considering contacting a specialist forceps/ventouse delivery lawyer to see if you have a claim.

There are of course many other reasons you may think yours or your baby’s condition during or after birth may be a concern. If you or your child have sustained injuries due to errors made during birth, you may be eligible to make a birth injury claim against the hospital or trust. Give Blackwater Law a call to discuss your claim further.