Neonatal Encephalopathy (Brain Injury in a Newborn)


According to the National Vital Statistics Report, birth injuries occur during pregnancy, labor, or in the brief period after delivery. These traumatic events damage prenatal or neonatal children, impairing their body’s function or structure.

Ranging from mild to severe, birth injuries happen in an average of seven out of every 1,000 births, and about 2% of all neonatal deaths and stillbirths in the United States result from these injuries.

Birth injuries often lead to a medical malpractice claim. Medical professionals do make mistakes, and negligence does occur. When this happens, you need a New Mexico birth injury attorney.

Defining Neonatal encephalopathy

Neonatal encephalopathy (NE) occurs when newborns experience a disturbance in their neurological function during pregnancy or birth. This syndrome is usually caused by oxygen deprivation to the baby’s brain, and in turn, the condition affects other internal organs. This low oxygen can cause complications in the:

  • Gastrointestinal systems
  • Hearts
  • Kidneys
  • Livers
  • Lungs

When a brain injury results from a lack of oxygen, it can also be called hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE). NE can have mild effects in infants but raise the risk of permanent brain injuries or cerebral palsy in the future. Improving the outcome depends upon discovering NE early and treating it immediately.

Factors of Neonatal Encephalopathy

Every case of NE may have varying circumstances. Over the course of pregnancy and birth, there are many factors that may lead to newborn brain injury, including:

  • Congenital brain malformation
  • Infection in the uterus or womb before birth
  • Intraventricular hemorrhage or bleeding in the baby’s brain
  • Metabolic or genetic disorder

Immediately after birth, several conditions can be associated with an NE, including:

  • Breathing problems
  • Dulled reflexes
  • Reduced levels of consciousness
  • Seizures

Diagnosis and Treatment of NE

Symptoms and indicators of NE should be detected when the doctor performs a physical exam on the newborn after delivery. If signs of NE are found, the baby should receive specialized care at a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) or a portable NeuroNICU.

Newborns suffering from a brain injury should be treated according to a care program distinct to NE, using specialized neurology equipment. A neurophysiologist and/or a pediatric neurologist should be available for neurological care in a hospital, at all times.

When NE is present in newborns, immediate breathing assistance is provided using intubation and mechanical ventilation. IVs supply the baby with fluids full of electrolytes and medicine. A urinary catheter may be inserted as doctors test the infant’s blood, checking for any other issues with their liver or kidneys.

In many cases, babies with NE develop some sort of developmental or neurological condition. Follow-up and long-term care are often needed.

Contact an Albuquerque Birth Injury Lawyer

If a healthcare provider’s lack of care leads to you or your child suffering a birth injury in New Mexico, a medical malpractice claim may be your option. Birth injuries can cause a lifetime of adverse effects. Significant medical treatments may be needed in the future.

The Albuquerque birth injury lawyers at Branch Law Firm have the experience and skill to investigate your potential claim and manage the legal process that comes with securing the compensation needed to ease the burdens associated with birth injuries.

We are here to help when you need us. Call (505) 317-9955 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.