Neonatal Stroke Birth Injury Lawyers in Washington, D.C.
Each person’s pregnancy, childbirth and decisions regarding child-rearing are different. However, all parents can agree on one thing: They want their newborn to be healthy above everything else. This is why it is so appalling when a newborn suffers a preventable complication – especially one that is life-changing or life-threatening such as a stroke.
At The Law Offices of Michael M. Wilson M.D., J.D. & Associates, our experienced medical malpractice lawyers can guide you through your neonatal stroke birth injury malpractice lawsuit if you have a case. Our attorneys are also trained and licensed doctors who understand the many medical and legal aspects of these cases. To learn more about neonatal strokes and your rights if your newborn has suffered harm due to a medical professional’s error, contact us for a case review.
What Is a Neonatal Stroke?
A neonatal stroke can be a devastating condition for a newborn to suffer, resulting in death or long-term harm. Similar to a stroke that occurs in adults, a neonatal stroke occurs due to a disruption of the blood supply to the developing brain within the first month of a newborn’s life.
The two most common types of neonatal stroke are:
- Arterial ischemic stroke – When a structural abnormality or a blood clot obstructs the flow of blood to the brain
- Hemorrhagic stroke – When the brain itself is bleeding.
When the blood supply to the brain is disrupted, the consequences can be devastating.
What Are the Symptoms of Neonatal Stroke?
All doctors who work with newborns must be acutely aware of the symptoms of a neonatal stroke and be prepared to take action should any symptoms of neonatal stroke arise. According to Boston Children’s Hospital, some of the most common symptoms of a neonatal stroke include:
- Seizures – A seizure can occur as early as just a few days after the newborn’s birth.
- Extreme lethargy – While newborns are generally sleepy – even sleeping more than 18 hours per day in some cases – extreme lethargy and sleepiness are characteristic of neonatal stroke.
- Hemiparesis – Showing signs of weakness or partial paralysis on one side of their body.
- Apnea – A stop in breathing or multiple pauses in breathing, referred to as apnea, could be a sign of neonatal stroke.
- Trouble eating – A refusal to feed may be another indication of neonatal stroke.
Neurological complications are also a sign of a neonatal stroke, although they can be extremely difficult to recognize in a newborn who is only a few days or weeks old. In many cases, the signs of a neonatal stroke will not be seen until the child is older. When a child is learning to speak or walk, difficulty in doing either can indicate that the child suffered a neonatal stroke.
What Causes a Neonatal Stroke?
The two primary causes of neonatal stroke are a blood clot or structural defect that hinders the flow of blood to the brain or spinal cord, or bleeding in the brain. Hemorrhagic stroke may be the result of an abnormality in the blood vessel. Conditions that are associated with an increased risk of neonatal stroke include:
- Brain tumors
- Congenital heart disease
- Sickle cell disease
- Cardiac disorders
- Any other conditions that affect blood clotting.
In addition to the above conditions, oxygen disruption during birth, extended labor and delivery, trauma and other acts of malpractice can also contribute to the risk of neonatal stroke.
Fetal Stroke Risk Factors
Numerous factors place a newborn at a higher risk for a stroke. Some newborns are born with a hole in their heart, which is a fairly common birth defect. When a child suffers from this condition, any blood clot can easily pass from other parts of the body such as the leg and travel through the heart and into the brain.
Anyone with a family history of blood clots is also more at risk for a stroke, including newborns. When there is a history of strokes in the family, doctors must take special precautions to try and prevent a stroke in the newborn. The failure to do so may be medical negligence.
When a child is suffering from a serious condition such as meningitis or sepsis, it also increases the child’s chance of having a stroke. Additionally, the risk factors described above, including dehydration and improper care during childbirth, are some of the major risk factors of a fetal stroke.
What Are the Differences Between Neonatal and Perinatal Strokes?
Many people use the terms “neonatal stroke” and “perinatal stroke” interchangeably. However, the two types of strokes are different. Unlike hemorrhagic strokes and ischemic strokes, the differences between neonatal and perinatal stroke do not lie in how they occur. Instead, the difference is when they occur.
Perinatal strokes can occur before or after the child is born. These strokes typically happen anywhere between 20 and 22 weeks of gestation and up until one month after the baby is born. Perinatal strokes may be referred to as neonatal strokes. This is because neonatal strokes occur only after a child is born. These strokes are also most likely to occur shortly after birth – typically within the first month of the child’s life.
Despite these slight differences, the effects are always the same. They can cause neurological issues that remain with a child for the rest of his or her life. When these strokes occur, parents should consult with an attorney that can determine if they have a valid birth injury claim.
What Is a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?
When a baby exhibits signs of neonatal stroke, it is critical that the doctor responsible for that newborn’s care take action swiftly. While treatment is not a guarantee that damage will be mitigated, it can help to save a baby’s life or reduce the degree of long-term harm and brain damage that the baby suffers. Types of treatment might include hyperbaric oxygen therapy, the use of an anticoagulant and hypothermia treatment.
When a doctor fails to exercise the duty of care that the doctor owes to a patient – in this case, recognizing the signs of neonatal stroke and taking immediate action to treat it or to prevent the stroke to begin with – and the patient suffers harm that they otherwise would not have suffered, the patient maintains the right to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against the healthcare provider. In a neonatal stroke birth injury malpractice lawsuit, the plaintiff in the case will be tasked with proving that the doctor against whom the suit has been filed acted outside of scope of what another doctor of similar training and education would do, and that damages resulted from that negligence.
Steps to Take if You Think You Have a Neonatal Stroke Birth Injury Case
If your newborn child has suffered a neonatal stroke, and you think that you have a medical malpractice lawsuit, it is critical that you take action quickly. The clock is ticking on the statute of limitations, which means that the time that you have to file your claim is running out.
The first thing that you should do is to start documenting anything that you can remember about the symptoms your baby suffered and how your doctor responded as well as note any difficulties your child now experiences (such as difficulties with balance or speech). Start collecting any medical bills and documents related to the neonatal stroke.
Then, you should call an experienced attorney. Attempting to bring a malpractice case without a skilled lawyer on your side is not advisable. The earlier that you reach out to a legal professional, the sooner that your attorney can begin working on your case.
Get Help from an Experienced Washington, D.C., Neonatal Stroke Birth Injury Attorney
At The Law Offices of Michael M. Wilson M.D., J.D. & Associates, our experienced Washington, D.C. medical malpractice lawyers are here to protect your rights and help you to explore all of your legal options. Through the years, we have recovered more than $100 million on behalf of clients in Washington, D.C., and throughout the country. If you believe that your child suffered harm due to a neonatal stroke, we are here to help you. Call or reach us online today to learn more in a free consultation.