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Errors During Delivery Rarely Cause Newborn Brain Damage

Findings suggest closer scrutiny needed during the two hours following birth

MONDAY, Feb. 1, 2016 (HealthDay News) — Few cases of severe brain damage in newborns are due to errors made during delivery, according to a new, small study published online Jan. 21 in the Journal of Perinatology.

Jonathan Muraskas, M.D., co-medical director of the neonatal intensive care unit at Loyola University Medical Center in Chicago and professor in the department of pediatrics of Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, and colleagues analyzed the medical records of 32 full-term infants with cerebral palsy and mental retardation.

The cases examined included 18 newborns with chorioamnionitis, and 14 newborns with severe anemia. The researchers found that early-onset seizures, multiorgan failure, and a partial prolonged injury to the cortex and subcortical white matter were associated with profound depression with low 10-min Apgars (88, 94, and 94 percent, respectively). In 68 percent of newborns, a cord arterial pH >7.00 was noted; in just 19 percent of the newborns, deep gray matter injury involving the basal ganglia and thalamus occurred.

“The cord arterial pH and partial pressure of carbon dioxide values, early-onset seizures, and paucity of isolated deep gray matter injury support that significant injury occurred postnatally despite appropriate resuscitation,” the authors write. “This unique pattern may refute allegations of obstetrical mismanagement in the intrapartum period.”

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