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New birth injury guidelines focus on prevention

Residents of Bernalillo County, New Mexico, may want to know that for some cases of the brain injury known as neonatal encephalopathy, the causes of such injuries remain unidentified. Birth injuries among newborns are not uncommon, and if doctors could identify and treat the injury immediately, some neonatal encephalopathy cases may be preventable.

Pediatricians must play a more active role in diagnosing newborns with brain injury and referring them to a center capable of handling such cases in order to cure neonatal encephalopathy. A new guideline for neonatal encephalopathy could prove to be a great help in determining possible causes of this brain injury among newborns.

A report prepared by two leading groups of U.S. obstetricians and pediatricians says that if the cause of brain injury among newborns is identified, it could help doctors greatly in developing new prevention strategies. According to the updated guidelines on neonatal encephalopathy, doctors have been advised to examine every possible factor that could have contributed to the brain injury. It has also advised doctors to include the mother's medical history among other possible causes of birth injury that affects the brain.

Previous recommendations asked doctors to determine if lack of oxygen at the time of birth contributed to neonatal encephalopathy. A recent news release stated that although many newborn brain injuries are caused by problems occurring around the time of labor and delivery, some injuries occur before the arrival of the pregnant woman at the hospital and labor floor.

A variety of causes can contribute to neonatal encephalopathy, such as oxygen deprivation to the infant, metabolic disorders and genetic conditions. Prompt recognition of neonatal encephalopathy and advances in newborn brain imaging can help doctors determine the timing of the infant's brain injury as well as its severity.

Source: HealthFinder.gov, "Some cases of neonatal encephalopathy may be preventable," April 3, 2014

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