An estimated 765,000 Americans have cerebral palsy, according to statistics published by United Cerebral Palsy. Of these, most are due to developmental issues caused during the prenatal period. However, as many as 10 percent of cases are caused by injuries during the delivery.
As your family prepares for its newest member, take time to ensure these essential points of birthing room care to reduce the chances of neonatal brain injuries that could cause cerebral palsy at birth.
1. Watchfulness for signs of jaundice, seizure and fetal stroke
Mayoclinic.com reports that all of these conditions can cause damage to the brain’s motor control centers – a direct cause of this kind of cerebral palsy. Delivery staff must know – and watch for – the signs of these symptoms in your newborn.
2. Careful monitoring of fetal heartbeat
Conditions during delivery and reduce fetal heartbeat, which is why delivery rooms include a fetal heart monitor. If the baby’s heart rate falls too far for too long, the brain my stop getting oxygen long enough to cause brain damage.
3. Appropriate use of extraction implements
Vacuum and forceps extraction are common practice for some difficult births, but misuse – or failure to use when necessary – can damage your newborn’s brain. All delivery staff should be up-to-date on existing equipment and their best use.
4. Willingness to call in specialists or perform emergency procedures
Special cases call for special measures, whether it’s an anesthesiologist for the mother’s pain or a surgeon to perform a Cesarean section. UCP suggests some complications that should lead medical staff to call for extraordinary measures include:
- Unusually low or high birth weight
- Dropping fetal heart rate
- Prolonged delivery (over 20 hours)
- Signs of infection in mother or child at time of birth
- Blue color of skin, which could indicate oxygen deprivation
5. Immediate response to head injury
Medicinenet.com reports that the while many childhood head injuries are related to trauma in the traditional sense of a car accident or fall, a statistically significant number of head injuries to babies during the labor and delivery process account for cerebral palsy cases. Consequently, medical facilities need to provide an immediate and appropriate response – including summoning an neonatal emergency team when any type of fetal head injury is suspected. Such action is vital to ensure a healthy baby in these cases.