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Newborns and brain injuries: factors besides oxygen deprivation

It has long been known that many brain injuries among newborns are due to oxygen deprivation.

That statement remains true. Research is now showing, however, that it isn’t only during labor and delivery when babies are at risk.

In this post, we will discuss a recent report suggesting that other types of conditions besides oxygen deprivation can result in newborns with brain injuries.

The report was issued by two respected medical groups. One was the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. The other was the American Academy of Pediatrics

The report itself carries a long, rather dense title. It is called the Neonatal Encephalopathy and Neurologic Outcome.

This terminology can be a bit daunting. But as multi-syllabic as it is, encephalopathy can be pared down to two very basic words. In their Greek and Latin roots, “cephalos” means head and “pathos” means suffering. And so encephalopathy is a disease of the brain and neonatal encephalopathy is brain injury or disease of a newborn.

What does the new report say about diseases of the brain among newborns? It seeks to show that in some cases brain injuries among newborns may have deeper causes than has been previously recognized. Oxygen deprivation during labor and delivery is undeniably a problem. But other factors are problems as well.

These other factors can include:
• Genetic factors
• Bleeding during pregnancy
• Infections that affect the fetal membranes
• Various maternal health problems

In short, medical professionals have to do more than making sure babies get proper oxygen during the birth and delivery process. They also have to be aware of the other factors that can cause cerebral palsy and other brain injuries among newborns.

 

Source: The New York Times, "Hurt Before the Birth," Jane E. Brody, May 5, 2014

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