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Hypoxia and birth injury in newborns

Birth injuries are much more common than many people would think. In fact, two out of every 1,000 babies are at risk of brain damage in connection with birth.

Many types of injuries can occur during birth that can result in damage to the brain. These injuries can have permanent ramifications. Hypoxia, a birth injury caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain while the baby is passing through the birth canal, is preventable and may be considered as medical malpractice by the doctor and hospital depending upon circumstances surrounding the injury to the newborn child. An infection or a reduced level of oxygen in the blood can cause the newborn's brain to swell, leading to serious injury and, potentially, cerebral palsy or even epilepsy. Sadly, this is most common in premature births.

Researchers at Sweden's University of Gothenburg believe they have identified new ways to prevent and treat birth defects that result from injury to the brain during the birthing process. Receptors in the brain, known as "toll-like receptors" or TLRs, play an important role in the immune system and in the brain's ability to repair and avoid damage. Understanding these TLRs may lead to better understanding and treatment for these birth injuries. Researchers working with TLRs won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine this year.

Birth injuries can have lifelong medical effects and are usually preventable. However, if a doctor failed to order a necessary procedure or the hospital failed to properly protect the patient or provide basic care, the hospital and the doctor may be liable for monetary damage.

Source: News-Medical.net, "TLRs contribute to brain damage following hypoxia in newborns," November 23, 2011

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