Injuries to the white matter of the brain increase the risk of cerebral palsy. A recent study, published in Obstetrics and Gynecology International, dug into whether the size of an infant's head would increase the risk of brain damage during labor and delivery and ultimately increase the risk of a cerebral palsy diagnosis.
Findings of study: Connection present
Ultimately, the researchers found a connection between a large head circumference and white matter brain damage in term-born infants. Infants with a head circumference that was over the 90th percentile had a risk of a cerebral palsy diagnosis that was 10 times higher than their peers. Researchers found the increase was due to the risk of a "prolonged or obstructed labor" because the infants were "too large for the mother's pelvis." This led to skull deformations during delivery.
Researchers note the finding also helps explain why boys are more likely to suffer from cerebral palsy compared to girls. According to their data, boys represented almost two-thirds of all infants with a head circumference over the 90th percentile -- thus putting them at greater risk.
Reason for delayed diagnosis: Infants may otherwise seem healthy
Researchers also stated this finding may help explain the diagnosis of an otherwise "seemingly healthy population" of term-born male infants. After medical examination by a physician following birth, 62 percent of infants suffering brain damage did not exhibit any clinical signs. As a result, the examining physician labeled the infant as healthy. It is possible the white matter damage did not become apparent until later in the child's development, resulting in the seemingly unexplainable cerebral palsy diagnosis.
Although each case of cerebral palsy is unique, this study provides additional information about how an infant may sustain an injury that results in the disease. Those who believe they are the victims of a birth injury that resulted in cerebral palsy are wise to seek legal counsel. An attorney experienced in cerebral palsy medical malpractice cases can discuss your options and better ensure your legal rights and remedies are protected.