Newborn Encephalitis: Causes, Symptoms & Pursuing an Injury Claim

If a birth injury, such as newborn encephalitis, is the result of the negligence of a healthcare provider – such as choosing a vaginal delivery when a C-section should have been performed – it may lead to filing a claim against a doctor or hospital in Cleveland with a medical malpractice lawyer in Ohio.

Compensation could be available for the current and future healthcare costs associated with the injury. There may be other types of damages that can be sought as well.

What is encephalitis? 

When an infection is present in the brain, it can cause inflammation. The condition in which this occurs is known as encephalitis. The condition can range from mild to severe. Although treatment may help improve the condition, some may be at risk of serious complications or even death.

What causes newborn encephalitis? 

Generally, encephalitis is caused by a virus or bacteria. When a pregnant mother has an infection, it may pass to her child during vaginal delivery.

The most common type of virus that may cause newborn encephalitis if passed to the child is herpes simplex 2 (HSV-2), according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Even without current symptoms, a pregnant woman may pass the virus to her child during vaginal delivery.

If the infection is acquired later in pregnancy and a first outbreak is present during a vaginal delivery, risk of transmission to the baby may be greater. Women who have an infection should consult their physician about reducing risk of transmission to their child. If appropriate steps are not taken, a doctor in Cleveland may be held liable by a medical malpractice lawyer in Ohio in a malpractice claim.

What are the symptoms of newborn encephalitis? 

It can take a few days for symptoms to present themselves. Symptoms of herpes may include rash, fever, sores, or eye infection. The child should be properly treated.

If treatment is not provided, the child may suffer additional harm and the doctor who failed to provide treatment may be considered negligent, in which case a Cleveland medical malpractice lawyer can help Ohio parents pursue a claim. If not treated, encephalitis may develop.

Symptoms of encephalitis may include: 

  • Irritability;
  • poor feeding;
  • vomiting;
  • bulging soft spot on top of the head; and
  • body stiffness.

What are the possible complications of newborn encephalitis? 

The consequences of encephalitis in a newborn can be life-altering or even fatal. Not only can the virus affect the baby’s brain but it can also affect the central nervous system.

Some of the potential risks include cerebral palsy (impairment of motor skills, movement and muscle tone) and mental retardation (impairment of cognitive functioning). Parents in Cleveland who suspect negligence like failure to address risk of infection to the newborn or to properly treat newborn encephalitis or HSV can consult a medical malpractice lawyer in Ohio.

Could a doctor prevent encephalitis? 

One of the ways in which a doctor might be liable for this type of birth injury is if it was known the mother had genital herpes and measures weren’t taken to treat it and/or protect the unborn baby. It may be necessary for the mother to take medication around the 36th week of pregnancy. Not offering this as an option could be considered negligence.

Another way a doctor may be able to prevent encephalitis in a newborn is by performing a C-Section instead of vaginal delivery. When there are obvious lesions in the mother’s genital area, a vaginal birth should generally be avoided.

Although it doesn’t guarantee the virus won’t be transmitted, avoiding vaginal delivery may reduce risk. So by not making this option available, it could be viewed as negligent and a Cleveland medical malpractice lawyer may help Ohio parents pursue a claim.

Compensation for a medical malpractice claim could be available to address the financial, physical and emotional losses suffered. In Cleveland, a medical malpractice lawyer at Mellino Robenalt LLC can help Ohio parents who suspect negligence may have contributed to their child’s injury or medical condition. Patents who suspect negligence related to failure to address cases of HSV or to properly treat newborn encephalitis can discuss case details with a lawyer.