Emma Neville of this firm recently acted in a birth injury case which involved a child who suffered Hypoxic Ischematic Encephalopathy (HIE) which resulted in permanent neurological damage and cerebral palsy. The scale of the award represented a landmark figure in Ireland for these types of cases. The case was defended fully by the Health Service Executive who claimed that the hospital was not liable for the child’s injuries. The Plaintiff’s case was that the hospital had failed to adequately monitor the fetal heart in the hours before delivery.
Researchers at ‘INFANT’ in University College Cork have now identified two biochemical signals that can be used to aid the detection of birth related brain injury. These blood bio markers can be found in the umbilical cord and could provide an early detection system for Hypoxic Ischematic Encephalopathy in new born children. Because HIE causes brain injury due to lack of oxygen, it can leave new-borns with permanent neurological damage or cerebral palsy (CP). The severity of the CP depends on how long the new born was without oxygen before birth.
Early intervention in brain injury for new-borns is critical so that brain cooling therapy can be initiated which may reduce the extent of brain injury and improve outcomes for children who have suffered in this way.
This new research should provide a tool for hospitals in Identifying infants who may have suffered a brain injury. This will help speed up the infant’s access to therapeutic hypothermia (brain cooling) which in turn can reduce the seriousness of the brain injury.
With the help of this new research, it is hoped that babies affected by a lack of oxygen to the brain at birth might not suffer such catastrophic injuries in the future.