Birth Injury Lawyers for Children with Microcephaly in New Jersey
Microcephaly is a medical condition that occurs when an infant’s head is smaller than that of other infants of the same age and sex. Infants affected by microcephaly often have smaller brains than other infants, and the infant’s brains may not develop properly. Microcephaly is relatively uncommon, as the National Birth Defects Prevention Network estimates that the condition only affects between 2 and 12 infants per 10,000 live births in the United States. If your child has been diagnosed with microcephaly, it is important to understand the characteristics, symptoms, and some potential causes of this condition in infants. In some cases, medical negligence on the part of doctors, nurses, and medical staff may cause an otherwise healthy child to develop microcephaly before or during birth. When this occurs, victims and their families have the right to take legal action.
What is Microcephaly?
Microcephaly results when an infant’s head is substantially smaller than normal. Typically, a child’s head grows during pregnancy because that child’s brain is growing. If the brain does not develop as expected, the infant’s head can also fail to develop properly, resulting in a smaller than normal head size. While some forms of microcephaly occur prior to birth due to genetic abnormalities, which is known as congenital microcephaly, microcephaly can also occur after birth, which is referred to as acquired microcephaly.
Acquired microcephaly occurs when an infant’s head develops properly up until delivery, but stops growing after birth due to some form of brain damage or trauma. If a child’s brain is damaged during the labor and delivery process, whether it be while the child is still in the womb or while they are traveling through the birth canal, microcephaly can manifest in a smaller than normal head size. In some cases, a brain injury during birth such as Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE) will result in a microcephalic symptoms that become more observable as the child grows.
Symptoms of Microcephaly
There are different degrees of microcephaly. It may be mild and occur as an isolated condition unrelated to any other major birth defects, or it may be severe. In cases of severe microcephaly, the child may experience more symptoms and more extreme health problems. Children who suffer from severe microcephaly may have reduced neurological function and shorter than average life spans.
Microcephaly has been associated with seizures. It has also been associated with impaired child development, including delayed standing, sitting, and walking skills. Microcephaly symptoms also include problems with speech and delays accomplishing other developmental milestones. The condition may also manifest in vision problems, difficulty swallowing, hearing loss, and intellectual disabilities like an impaired ability to learn and function in social situations.
Each of these symptoms can range in severity and many are lifelong. Infants with severe microcephaly tend to display a greater number of the symptoms listed above, whereas infants with mild to moderate microcephaly may only display one or a few of those symptoms. It can be difficult to immediately determine which symptoms a microcephalic infant will display. For this reason, it is important to for doctors to perform regular healthcare check-ups and provide continued monitoring for children as they develop.
Possible Causes of Microcephaly
The cause of microcephaly can be difficult to identify with precision. Infections such as rubella, cytomegalovirus, and toxoplasmosis that may occur during pregnancy can cause microcephaly. A pregnant mother’s exposure to the Zika virus may also cause microcephaly. Since maternal infections can result in severe complications for the mother and may be transferred to the developing fetus, it is vital for treating physicians to be aware of the signs of possible infection in pregnant patients and provide rapid diagnosis and treatment when infections occur.
It is also possible that an interruption of the blood supply or oxygen flowing to an infant’s brain can result in microcephaly. An infant can be deprived of oxygen due to complications or poor medical practices during the labor and delivery process. If a medical team fails to take proper precautions or follow proper procedures during a complicated delivery, the chance of an infant developing microcephaly and other conditions involving brain damage can increase.
Contact NJ Microcephaly Negligence Attorneys for Help with Your Claim
If you have a child who has been diagnosed with microcephaly, and you suspect that your infant may have suffered this condition due to medical negligence, it is critical to consult with an experienced attorney who has tried and won birth injury cases. Our team of New Jersey birth injury lawyers can help evaluate whether you have a potential legal claim and if so, we will fight aggressively for compensation for your and your family. Call us 866-708-8617 today or contact us online for a free consultation about your child’s microcephaly case.
Related Resources & Information:
- Facts about Microcephaly, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- Microcephaly Patient Care and Health Information, MayoClinic
- Understanding Maternal Infection