While the birth of a child is typically a joyous event for parents, it carries serious risks to both an infant and her mother. One rare but potentially debilitating risk is periventricular leukomalacia, or PVL, which can occur when brain tissue is injured or dies. While the cause of PVL can be difficult to determine, a lack of blood flow to the brain during childbirth is clearly linked to PVL and PVL is much more common in preterm infants.
Doctors and nurses in Illinois who are delivering an infant or caring for a pregnant mother must be aware of any risks that could contribute to the development of PVL. If your infant has suffered from periventricular leukomalacia, you may want the help of an experienced Illinois birth injuries attorney.
What is Periventricular Leukomalacia?
PVL is when damage occurs to the white brain tissue near fluid-filled chambers in the brain known as ventricles. White matter in the brain acts as an agent of communication between nerve cells, the spinal cord, and different parts of the brain. Damaged white matter can cause growth and motor function issues in young children, including cerebral palsy and learning disorders.
What Causes Periventricular Leukomalacia?
Babies’ brains are very fragile, especially when a baby is born prematurely. Certain risk factors and avoidable birth injuries that cause a lack of blood or oxygen flow to the brain can cause or contribute to PVL. Some of these risk factors and injuries include, but are not limited to:
- Intrauterine infections
- Intraventricular hemorrhaging
- Prolonged labor
- Shoulder dystocia
- Premature rupture of membranes, or a mother’s water breaking too soon
- Nuchal cord
Diagnosing Periventricular Leukomalacia
PVL may manifest with obvious symptoms right away, but for many infants, it takes months for symptoms to appear. One common sign of PVL is spastic diplegia, which is a type of cerebral palsy that causes a baby’s muscles, most commonly in the legs, to contract tightly. MRIs and cranial ultrasounds are harmless tests that can show doctors the inside of a baby’s brain and produce images that reveal whether PVL may be present. Unfortunately, there is no cure for PVL. Children with cerebral palsy or other developmental issues or delays often require extensive, lifelong care.
While some cases of PVL are unavoidable, doctors need to take careful steps to lower the risks of PVL. A doctor whose negligent actions contributed to a lack of oxygen to the brain during childbirth may be held responsible with a birth injury lawsuit.
Meet with an Experienced Illinois Birth Injuries Lawyer for a Free Case Review
At Birth Injury Law Alliance, our team of Chicago birth injury attorneys understands that the idea of managing a lawsuit on top of the challenges you are already facing may feel like too much to bear. We work diligently on behalf of our clients to carry the workload so you can focus on your family and have the freedom to pursue justice, even as you manage the challenges of PVL or other birth injuries. You can schedule a consultation at no risk to you by calling our offices today at 312-462-4200.