An injury to the brain before, during, or soon after childbirth may cause seizures in a child. A seizure is an electrical disturbance in the brain that cannot be controlled. An episode usually lasts between 30 and 120 seconds, although it can last for longer in some cases. A common condition associated with seizures is epilepsy, which may be suspected if a child suffers from recurring seizures without an identifiable cause during a 24-hour period.
Not all seizures are preventable, but some are associated with birth injuries or pregnancy complications that could have been avoided. These may include:
Errors involving the use of forceps or vacuum extraction devices during childbirth
Symptoms and Diagnosis of Seizures
If a parent notices signs of a seizure in a child, they should immediately contact their health care provider. Symptoms vary depending on the area of the brain that is affected. A child may suffer from convulsions or other movement disturbances, for example, which may cause shaking or jerking motions, problems with coherence, loss of balance, and falls. Other types of seizures may manifest as mood swings, causing anxiety and irritability. Still other seizures may disrupt sensory functions, including sight, sound, and taste.
A doctor can diagnose seizures by looking for abnormal electrical activity in the brain. They may conduct imaging tests such as CT scans and MRIs, and they may use electroencephalography. This is a non-invasive technique that involves recording electrical activity on the scalp, which parallels activity in the surface layer of the brain.
Treatment for Seizures
After diagnosing seizures, a doctor may prescribe medications such as anti-convulsants. In some cases, they may recommend surgery if a patient consistently suffers from seizures that originate in the same area of the brain. The treatment plan will depend on the specific type of seizure and its location.
As mentioned above, epilepsy involves recurring seizures. This disease may be partial or generalized. Partial epilepsy is limited to part of the body and usually involves more moderate symptoms. Children may experience tremors and problems with coherence. In contrast, generalized epilepsy affects the entire body and causes more serious problems. A child may suffer from loss of consciousness, incontinence, and involuntary movements.
In the long term, a child who suffers from epilepsy may develop cognitive impairments. They may struggle with memory, attention, and other learning skills, and they may miss developmental milestones. Problems with learning and behavior can undermine their ability to interact with others and limit their professional prospects.
Legal Claims Involving Seizures in Children
Epilepsy and other conditions involving seizures may be idiopathic. This means that the cause is unknown, and the condition may not have been preventable. In other cases, though, seizures may arise from medical errors that cause birth injuries to the brain. When this happens, a family coping with seizures in a child may be able to bring a medical malpractice claim against a health care provider who was at fault. They may be able to get compensation for medications and other treatment costs. In cases involving epilepsy or other severe conditions, compensation for future damages caused by seizures may be available.
A parent should promptly contact a birth injury lawyer if they suspect that seizures in their child may have resulted from medical malpractice. These cases are more complex than ordinary personal injury cases, and unusual procedural rules may apply. For example, a family may need to provide an affidavit of merit at the outset of the litigation. In this document, a medical expert verifies that the claim is legitimate, based on their review of the records. An experienced attorney can help a family navigate these procedural hurdles, which otherwise could prevent them from exercising their rights.
Some people worry about the cost of hiring a lawyer, but birth injury attorneys usually take cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that they collect their fees only as a percentage of the compensation awarded to a client.