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Preventing Birth Injuries and Advancing the Science of Neonatal Care

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Neonatal birth injuries often cause lifelong challenges for families, from daily care of the infant to long-term mental health problems, and researchers are scrambling to prevent the most commonly occurring injuries.

Awareness of one of the most common birth injuries is now on the rise, as researchers dedicate funds to the prevention and treatment of Neonatal Brachial Plexus Palsy (NBPP)—an injury that can cause loss of movement or weakness in the arm.

In Chester, Pa., an assistant professor of biomedical engineering at the Widener University of Engineering named Anita Singh has received a multi-year grant from the National Science Foundation to continue her research into neonatal conditions that may make a child more vulnerable to injury and, by a result, more likely to have Brachial Plexus Palsy (BPP). The study builds on injury outcomes that occur during hypoxia, a medical condition that results in low oxygen in a newborn’s tissues. Frequently, this condition is caused by complicated deliveries.

Ms. Singh’s team hopes to develop strategies for stopping birth-related injuries before they happen—an all important effort as BPP occurs in up to three of every 1,000 births. Frequently, in uteri infants who suffer this outcome are higher weight, breeched, or involved in a prolonged labor. In BPP, the nerves between the neck and the shoulders are stretched, compressed, or torn in a difficult delivery, as reported by Boston Children’s Hospital.

Children who suffer from BPP may lose muscle function or even experience paralysis, symptoms that can sometimes rectifies themselves within months of birth, but often require surgery, tendon transfers, and long-term physical therapy.

Unfortunately, such birth injuries can be the result of improper diagnosis, incorrect techniques during birth or simple negligence—a topic our firm has blogged about in more detail regarding birth injury cases in the state of Tennessee.

Above all, it’s important to realize that birth injuries change more than a child’s life, they can fundamentally affect the entire family. The current work that’s focused on this serious issue should help to restore a level of normalcy to those whose family has potentially been affected by such an injury.

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