According to findings published by Birth Injury Guide, traumatic brain injury is the leading cause of disability and death in infants and children. Infant TBIs occur when a physical force from the outside puts pressure on or strikes the head. Typically, TBIs occur during childbirth and may happen when the head gets stuck in the birth canal or when a California doctor uses forceps or some other instrument with too much force on the baby's head. TBIs during infancy may also occur when the birthing process takes too long, thereby causing the infant to lose oxygen.
The symptoms of TBI vary drastically and can take many forms. Parents of afflicted children may notice physical symptoms first. Physical symptoms may include an abnormally large forehead, distorted facial features, abnormally-shaped spine or an unusually small head. Infants may also experience seizures, difficulty focusing or neck stiffness.
TBIs also cause temperament issues in infants and young children, though it may be hard for parents to distinguish normal infant behavior from symptoms of TBI. Infants with TBIs exhibit excessive crying, trouble sleeping while laying down, problems feeing and excessive fussiness for no reason.
Those who sustain TBIs at birth also demonstrate developmental delays, though those may not become apparent until the child begins to hit developmental milestones. Some delays parents should expect pertain to memory and information processing, concentration and attention, impulse control, language processing and communication. Children born with TBIs may also experience perceptual symptoms such as heightened sensitivity to pain, spatial disorientation and changes in vision or hearing. Physical symptoms may progress to include extreme fatigue, sleeping disorders, tremors or even paralysis.
Some physical symptoms parents may notice sooner rather than later include a child's difficulty sitting up, pulling him or herself up or eating on his or her own. These children might experience delays in crawling and walking as well.
Cerebral Palsy Guidance warns that for many children, symptoms will not begin to appear for months or even years, and they may never be obvious enough to lead to a diagnosis. If symptoms do happen to appear immediately after birth, a doctor will use MRIs or CT scans to detect traumatic damage. Even with these imaging tests, however, diagnosis is tricky not guaranteed. The best way to diagnose a TBI is to closely monitor symptoms.