An infant that suffers oxygen deprivation before or during delivery is at serious risk of developing a brain injury. Effects can include visual or audial impairment, cerebral palsy and epilepsy. These conditions can cause lifelong impairment for your child.

Sometimes, these birth injuries are unavoidable despite the delivering doctor’s best efforts. But other times, babies are deprived of oxygen for far longer than they would have, had the doctor paid a reasonable amount of attention to signs of fetal distress or taken timely action to intervene.

A new study released by Imperial College London suggests a possible method for diagnosing possible brain injury in newborns from oxygen deprivation. This earlier test strategy could lead to treatments targeting the effects of oxygen deprivation before they become permanent.

Looking for gene switching

For the study, researchers took blood samples from a small group of infants who sustained oxygen deprivation during labor. They performed gene sequencing on the blood samples and did follow-up examinations on the infants when they were 18 months old. It turned out that 855 genes were switched “on” or “off” differently in babies that developed neurological problems, compared with those who did not.

Two genes in particular showed a dramatic difference. The study’s authors believe that studying the nature of those genes could lead to a greater understanding of how brain injuries develop from oxygen deprivation during birth – and, in turn, how to stop their development.

What could this mean?

This study is quite small and fairly limited in scope. Researchers focused on just 45 babies born in India. Still, it could show a promising pathway to reducing incidents of babies developing serious disabilities, or at least reduce their severity.

What a medical malpractice lawyer could do for you

Any treatments that result from this study will not be available for years. In the meantime, you could be the parents of a child born with a severe neurological condition because of a negligent, incompetent obstetrician. To learn about the level of compensation your family could be entitled to, contact a personal injury attorney who practices medical malpractice law.