In 2003, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Academy of Pediatrics released its latest set of guidelines on neonatal encephalopathy. These guidelines concerning newborn brain injuries and disorders focused heavily on determining whether an injured infant suffered any lack of oxygen during the birthing process. Those guidelines had not been updated until earlier this month.
The new guidelines instruct physicians to examine all possible factors and conditions that may have contributed to the development of an infant’s brain injury. The collaborative efforts between these two organizations may lead physicians to better understand infant brain injury and to ultimately prevent infant brain injury in the future.
The chair of the task force that created these new guidelines recently explained that, “Although a significant portion of newborn brain injuries are due to problems around the time of labor and delivery, some cases occur before the pregnant patient even arrives at the hospital and the labor floor.” If physicians continue to focus on oxygen-deprivation issues alone, they may miss valuable information about what causes infant brain injury and how to prevent it.
The task force chair further emphasized this point when she noted that, “We know that neonatal encephalopathy is a brain disorder with a variety of causes. Metabolic disorders, inflammations and infections, genetic conditions, and oxygen deprivation to the infant are all potential causes, but we don’t know how many cases are preventable. By doing a root-cause analysis, we hope to identify issues that may help prevent some cases of neonatal encephalopathy in the future.”
Source: HealthDay, “Spotting cause of newborn brain injury could aid prevention, report says,” April 3, 2014