Traumatic Head Injuries in Infants, Young Children, and Teenagers Significantly Underdiagnosed

Brain injuries often go undetected following a trauma such as an automobile accident, bike accident, or fall. Detection is crucial because an injury to the brain early in life can have long-term effects, including impairments to a child’s ability to control their emotions and inhibit inappropriate behavior. Children who have suffered traumatic brain injuries also can have trouble responding to subtle social cues and planning difficult tasks.

Traumatic brain injuries (often referred to as TBI or sometimes as Acquired Brain Injury) often go undetected because in many cases there is no visible wound and unless a brain bleed or other visible abnormality is seen on an MRI or CT scan, the injury may go unnoticed. TBIs in very young (0-4) children are commonly overlooked by doctors even though very young children are at a greater risk for head injuries than the general population. This may have to do with the difficulties inherent in gathering information about cognitive and emotional functioning from children so young.

Warning signs that your child may have suffered a traumatic brain injury include:

  • any loss of consciousness immediately after the head injury
  • a change in behavior immediately after the head injury, such as becoming angry/irritable, lethargic/sleepy, not remembering the injury or other things, or suffering from poor balance, etc.
  • vomiting after the head injury, especially if your child develops persistent vomiting, which is usually defined as vomiting more than three or four times
  • a seizure immediately after the injury or later that day
  • can not open eyes fully after the head injury
  • develops other symptoms after the head injury, such as a severe or worsening headache, stiff neck, or photophobia (sensitivity to light), etc.
  • personality changes

Many of the warning signs of a pediatric brain injury are subtle and may only be noticed by family and close friends of the child with whom the child spent significant time prior to the injury.

If you suspect that your child may have suffered a traumatic brain injury, ask your doctors to refer you to a pediatric neuropsychologist Рthey are the doctors best equipped to diagnose head injuries in children.

Also, consider hiring an attorney to gather the evidence you need in order to prove your child’s brain injury was caused by the trauma they suffered. Insurance companies routinely deny that these difficult to detect injuries were caused by the accident in question. You need a lawyer on your side if you want the insurance company to pay for past medical bills and the future costs of care for your injured child.

“Baby Strep” Infection After Birth – Brain Injury

Group B Streptococcus (also known as GBS or “B Strep”) is a type of bacteria that can be passed from mother to baby during delivery and if not detected and treated early enough can lead to an infection that causes a brain injury. The brain injury can lead to a host of medical issues, including cerebral palsy, spastic quadriplegia, seizure disorders, an inability to swallow, communications deficits, incontinence and permanent pain. Other complications of Group B Strep (“Baby Strep”) infections are sepsis, pneumonia, meningitis, and death (Group B Strep is the most common cause of sepsis and meningitis in the United States during a newborn’s first week of life).

Group B Strep can easily be prevented. It is customary for doctors to run a battery of diagnostic tests prior to delivery, including a test for Group B  Strep. If the bacteria is detected neonatal antibiotics can be prescribed to eliminate it. The cost of the testing is minimal.

If the diagnostic test is not ordered (more common with premature births – this test is typically undergone in last month prior to delivery), there are well settled protocols for observing the infant after delivery to detect Group B Strep infection. The doctors and nurses taking care of your baby are responsible to follow these protocols so they can detect the infection and administer antibiotics immediately. Delay in starting antibiotics can result in catastrophic injuries to a newborn, including severe and permanent brain injuries.

If you feel that the doctors involved with the delivery and post-delivery care of your child negligently failed to recognize and act upon risk factors and signs indicating Group B Strep infection and caused your baby injuries by failing to administer antibiotics – please call me.

The life time costs of caring for a child with a brain injury is daunting. In one recent case the family of a brain injured child was awarded over $29 million in damages for past and future losses and expenses.

Here is one mom’s story of how doctors failed to order the proper diagnostic tests prior to delivery and her baby contracted Group B Strep (GBS) –

And here is a nicely done video that covers the basics of Group B Strep detection and prevention –

Childbirth Injury – Prolapsed Cord

A prolapsed umbilical cord can result in a reduction or complete stop of blood flow to your baby and lead to brain injury or death. It is the responsibility of your doctor or midwife to manage a prolapsed cord immediately.

If the prolapsed cord can be managed quickly (by moving the baby away from the cord or delivering the baby quickly or if necessary by caesarean section) there will be no permanent injury. The longer the delay, however, the greater the chance your baby will suffer a brain injury or die.

Proper management of a prolapsed cord is critical to prevent permanent harm to your baby. If you believe your doctor or midwife failed to properly manage a prolapsed cord, call me to discuss your legal options.