Seizures in Newborns

Seizures in Newborns

What Is the Most Common Cause of Neonatal Seizures?

Did Malpractice Lead to Your Newborn’s Seizures?

Last week, I was researching birth injuries and came across a fascinating paper from the American Academy of Neurology about the causes of seizures in newborns. In studying neonatal seizures, a multicenter cohort of researchers found that 58% of their subjects experienced seizures after sustaining a preventable birth injury.[1]

What You Need to Know

Seizures are the most common neurological problem for newborns. And thanks to research out of the University of Wisconsin Medical School, we know that newborns have a higher risk of seizures than any other age group.[2]

The multicenter cohort published findings that 58% of their subjects experienced seizures as a result of hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) despite being treated with the cooling protocol (therapeutic hypothermia). That means more than half of the newborns who were a part of their study suffered seizures as a result of the brain injury they suffered. It is a staggering number.

HIE is a type of newborn brain damage caused by a lack of oxygen and limited blood flow to the baby’s brain during labor and delivery. If medical professionals did not notice the signs of perinatal asphyxia (PNA) during labor and delivery, your child can suffer permanent brain damage, resulting in a reduced quality of life.

Symptoms of HIE include:

  • Weak breathing
  • Low heart rate
  • Poor muscle tone
  • Weak reflexes
  • Acidosis (umbilical cord blood pH of 7.0 or below)

To treat HIE, doctors use therapeutic hypothermia, which lowers the newborn’s body temperature to treat the effects of the birth injury. However, as the multicenter cohort found, 58% of newborns in their study suffered seizures after this treatment, signifying that, while therapeutic hypothermia is an important treatment, it does not alleviate all brain injuries caused by HIE.

Generally, proper and timely medical care during labor and delivery should prevent perinatal asphyxia (PNA), hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), and permanent brain damage to newborns. If your child exhibited seizures and received therapeutic hypothermia shortly after birth, medical malpractice may be the cause of your child’s birth injury.

We Can Help

Contact the experienced birth injury lawyers at the Yost Legal Group today at 1-800-YOST-LAW. We will provide free initial consultation and help you find the answers. There is no fee or expense unless you recover.

[1] Hannah C. Glass, et al., “Risk Factors for EEG Seizures in Neonates Treated with Hypothermia” (April 8, 2014)
[2] Raj D. Sheth MD, Gerald R. Hobbs PhD, and Martha Mullett MD, “Neonatal Seizures” (Madison: Journal of Perinatology, 1999)