There is a relatively recent new therapy doctors have been using to treat severe brain damage and slow down disease progression shortly after birth. Neonatal therapeutic hypothermia involves reducing the infant’s total body temperature. Past medical research has shown that people heal faster if they were injured while they were cold or in icy weather.
Often the birthing process can be very traumatic for mother and child. If the infant appears at risk of oxygen loss, typically after a birth injury, the doctors will place the newborns into a clinical treatment setting in which their body temperatures are lowered. Some conditions that may prompt this treatment are:
- Fetal heart abnormalities
- Difficult delivery
- Lack of oxygen in the mother’s blood before birth
- A delayed C-section
- Umbilical cord problems during delivery
- Maternal preeclampsia
- Fetal anemia
- Premature birth
- Meconium in the amniotic fluid
- An infant too large / small for gestational age
Doctors will also typically check for qualifications of the child before beginning the treatment. If the child needs resuscitation and oxygen after 10 minutes following birth, if their Apgar score is less than 5 after 10 minutes following birth, if the infants were born 36 weeks gestation and older, and if the infants have moderate to severe encephalopathy, the doctor will call for neonatal therapeutic hypothermia.
While there are some risks to this treatment, research has indicated that the benefits outweigh the dangers. For example, some studies show a slightly increased baseline heart rate in infants undergoing the treatment. Other babies have an increased need for blood pressure support. This treatment also doesn’t help babies with seizures, and other studies have shown that blood clotting may occur. However, the coagulation is typically fine if the baby was already experiencing it before the treatment started.
Hypothermia therapy has become a medical standard for the treatment of neonatal brain injury. If your doctor failed to perform the treatment, therefore, you may have a case for medical malpractice if that lack of therapy caused a worsening of your child’s condition. In order to prove you have a case for medical malpractice, you must know all of the following:
- An injury has occurred
- What conduct caused the injury
- The relationship between the injury and the behavior that caused it
You must also file a claim against the medical practitioner within 7 years of the date of the injury. If the case involves wrongful death, you must submit the claim within 2 years of the date of decease. If you think you have a case, contact our Pennsylvania birth injury attorney at Handler, Henning & Rosenberg, LLP. We have more than 100 years of collective experience representing people in all types of injury cases. Let us get you the compensation you deserve. Contact us at (888) 498-3023 or fill out our online form to schedule a free case consultation today.