Low Vitality Scores and Cerebral Palsy

by | Dec 15, 2017 | Birth Injury, Firm News, Medical Malpractice |

A recent study published in the British Medical Journal found that low vitality scores at birth are associated with the development of cerebral palsy in infants. Cerebral palsy is a disorder that impairs the part of the brain that controls a person’s muscle coordination and movement.
Lack of oxygen to the brain during birth is one of the causes of cerebral palsy.

After birth, all babies are given a vitality (also known as an Apgar score).
Apgar scores are scaled from zero to 10, with babies receiving seven to
10 considered within the normal range, four to six considered fairly low
and three or less critically low. Apgar scores are based on five criteria:
breathing, appearance, muscle tone, pulse rate and reaction when stimulated.

The study found that children with an Apgar score of three or less had
a 100 times greater incidence of developing cerebral palsy than children
scoring 10. However, the study also found that even among babies receiving
a four or lower vitality score, 90 percent of them did not develop cerebral palsy.

Based on their findings, the researchers believe that cerebral palsy is
closely related to factors that reduce an infant’s vitality and
that low Apgar scores may indicate the infant’s brain was impaired
during the mother’s pregnancy or delivery.

Erb’s Palsy and Other Birth Injuries

Cerebral palsy is just one type of birth injury. Another potentially serious
birth injury is Erb’s palsy, which is caused by stretch injuries
to the brachial plexus, a network of nerves located near the baby’s
neck that control movement down the arm and into the hands and fingers.
On average, one to two babies out of every 1000 born in the U.S. have
Erb’s palsy.

Erb’s palsy injuries often are the result of difficult deliveries.
This can happen when the baby is in breech position and in cases when
the baby is large, making labor and delivery more difficult and take longer.
Erb’s palsy also can occur in cases when the baby must be delivered
quickly and the treating physician has to use force to remove the baby,
either manually or with the help of a vacuum or forceps. In these cases,
the baby’s neck can be stretched – and with it the brachial
plexus – leading to the development of Erb’s palsy.

Babies with Erb’s palsy may still be able to move their arms and
fingers, so a child could be affected by the disorder but still have some
function in the arm and hand. The child’s doctor will look for weakness
in one of the arms and also may order X-rays and other diagnostic tests
to determine if the baby has suffered the nerve injury. Parents who notice
that their child is favoring one arm more than the other or not using
one of the arms at all should notify their pediatricians.

Most babies with Erb’s palsy recover from the injury and regain movement
and feeling. Other babies, however, will not and may suffer permanent
loss of function in the arm.

In addition to cerebral palsy and Erb’s palsy, other types of birth
injuries include:

  • Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (a general term for injuries caused by
    insufficient blood and oxygen supply to the brain)
  • Subconjunctival hemorrhage (eye-bleeding)
  • Caput succedaneum (bruising and swelling of the baby’s scalp)
  • Cephalohematoma (bleeding underneath the cranial bones)
  • Broken bones
  • Bruising and lacerations

Contact an Experienced Med Mal Attorney Today

During labor and delivery, the treating physician and support staff are
responsible for monitoring the mother and baby’s vital signs, including
their heart rates and oxygen levels for signs of distress. When these
signs are not properly monitored or when the doctor falls to take appropriate
action in response to distress indicators, like performing a timely C-section,
a birth injury can occur. While many birth injuries are minor, some are
very serious and can result in life-long impairments to the child or even death.

It can be very difficult to determine whether a birth injury is the result
of medical malpractice. An attorney experienced in handling medical malpractice
cases can review your circumstances and help determine whether a health
care provider’s negligence caused your child’s birth injury.
For more information, contact a medical malpractice lawyer today.

If you or a loved one has been injured at birth, you may be entitled to
medical malpractice compensation. To see if you have a case please call
The Lancione Law Firm at 440-571-6862 or
email us. There are no fees until we recover for you.


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