For many years it was assumed that fetal or neonatal strokes were not preventable. Recent studies, however, have shown that some strokes suffered in the fetal time period are due to preventable hypoxic ischemic episodes (an inadequate supply of oxygen to the brain) during labour.
A brain injury can result directly from a hypoxic ischemic episode. These injuries usually affect both sides of the baby’s brain as the hypoxia and ischemia affect the blood supply to the entire baby. A stroke, however, usually affects only one side of the brain. A stroke can be caused by a blockage of the blood flow through a blood vessel or by a bleed from the blood vessel. The blood vessel can be a vein or an artery.
The challenge that obstetrical lawyers face is to identify which strokes were inevitable and which were preventable. This is an emerging area and requires a careful analysis of the MRI / CT brain imaging and a careful analysis of the clinical records to determine if there was evidence of a hypoxic-ischemic episode. The opinion evidence of pediatric neurologists is essential. Leading obstetrical lawyers are familiar with the emerging literature and have the experience to analyze the records and retain the best-qualified experts to determine if a possible claim exists.