Symptoms of Infant Brain Damage

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Symptoms of Infant Brain Damage

As a parent, it is traumatizing and heart-rending to know that your child has any sort of complication during birth, let alone infant brain damage. Brain injuries can have damaging long-term effects on your baby. By spotting symptoms in the soonest possible time, you can ensure your newborn receives optimum care to reduce the effects he or she is suffering from. Establishing the causes and treatment options can prevent your child from permanent disability or more fatal consequences.

Immediate Post-Birth Symptoms

Detecting symptoms of infant brain damage can take a long while in some cases. However, some signs are apparent within hours, minutes, or days of your child’s birth.

There are many common signs right after birth that your child may be suffering from infant brain damage. These include neck stiffness, seizures, an abnormally-shaped spine, incessant crying, and feeding difficulties. If your child has difficulty sleeping on its back, trouble focusing its eyes, or is very irritable without cause, these are notable warning signs. If your child’s forehead appears to be abnormally large or head is much smaller than other infants, those are also potential indications.

Such symptoms can be triggered either by having a longer than normal delivery or if your child has suffered a severe infection. Your doctor might use an MRI or a CT scan to check for swelling or bleeding in the brain and even for skull fractures. If they detect one of these issues during the scans, then your child may have infant brain damage, and immediate treatment is required.

Diagnosing During Infancy  

As your child grows into infancy and early childhood, brain damage symptoms become more apparent. While the signs aren’t as apparent during birth, they become clearer if your child misses out on crucial developmental milestones. These milestones might include crawling, pulling up, sitting up, walking, running, grasping objects, being able to self-feed or dress, among other things. Physical, mental, cognitive, and behavioral capacities will be affected in some regard if brain damage is discovered in your baby.

Physical Symptoms

From a physical standpoint, you may notice that your child has severe sleeping problems, is tired on a regular basis, or is extremely sensitive to light. Stronger indicators such as paralysis of some or all of the infant’s limbs, tremors, and seizures are also significant signs that your infant has brain damage.

Your infant’s coordination and muscle control will become difficult if there is brain damage. As a result, the task of dressing becomes more laborious, as well as picking up a fork or other objects. If your child’s brain damage is severe, he or she will need you to assist them to do such things on a regular basis. Furthermore, your infant will struggle with his or her everyday bodily functions such as urination, drooling, and bowel movements.

Cognitive Symptoms

Once your child has missed certain developmental steps while growing older, these types of symptoms become easier to notice. Children with milder cases of brain damage will have trouble concentrating or paying attention while also struggling with impulse control. Problems processing language or communicating are also strong indicators, with infants who have serious brain damage struggling to speak or communicate in any way. If you recognize these behaviors, you may need to place your child in particular therapy or education classes.

In many cases, children aren’t diagnosed with brain damage until they start school and show learning disabilities such as attention deficit hyper disorder (ADHD) or attention deficit disorder (ADD). Brain damage reduces a child’s ability to read or count things. Retention becomes problematic, and if your child has brain damage, he or she will lack critical thinking skills.

Other Symptoms

Infant brain damage can lead to subsequent perceptual problems. Notable symptoms include heightened sensitivity to pain as well as vision or hearing changes. Your little one may also experience spatial disorientation, meaning your child is unable to recognize his or her body’s position in space.

Brain damage can increase a child’s sensitivity to light and other stimuli while also causing struggles with balance and depth perception. Emotional and behavioral disturbances are alternative symptoms that accompany brain damage. Extreme aggression and random temper tantrums take place, making your infant act inappropriately in social settings. Medication, therapy, and supervision are often needed in such instances.

What Can These Symptoms Lead to?

Brain damage in infants can lead to different types of conditions, including cerebral palsy. This condition results when parts of the brain controlling coordination and movement are damaged.

In other cases, infants can develop autism if they suffered cerebellum injuries during delivery. While genetics is seen as a more direct reason for this type of disability, brain damage can heighten the possibility of your child having this disorder.

Prognosis and Treatment

Once your infant has undergone an MRI or CT scan to detect swelling, bleeding, or fractures within the brain, there are ample treatment options available. It should be emphasized that CT scans are only recommended if your child scores lower than 15 on the Glasgow Coma Scale. This type of neurological scale analyzes one’s state of consciousness, with scores ranging from three (deep coma or death) to fifteen (fully awake).

Newer treatment methods such as therapeutic cooling are being used to reduce body heat in infants as a measure that tries to stop disabilities associated with brain damage. You can opt to have your child undergo surgery, which will reduce swelling while maintaining blood and water flow in the brain. However, developmental delays may still exist afterward. Physicians may place an intracranial monitoring advice on your child’s skull to track brain activity.

Rehabilitation, physical therapy, and medications focused on aiding concentration and attention could be recommended. There’s also the potential for acute treatment, where a mechanical ventilation system may be installed to reduce brain pressure.

If you know your baby has suffered a brain injury or any other congenital disability due to medical malpractice and you need advice, the Safe Birth Project has all your legal tips. Visit for more details.


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