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Late Sequelae of Perinatal Brain Injury

Perinatal brain injury can lead to motor and intellectual disabilities and handicaps. In "compromised baby" cases, the typical child/plaintiff has a variant of cerebral palsy, which is by definition a non-progressive motor deficit. Population-based epidemio-logical studies have shown that in the majority of cases the cause of cerebral palsy is unknown, fewer than 20% of cases being attributed to perinatal asphyxia (Nelson and Ellenberg 1986; Pharoah et al. 1996). Children suffering perinatal brain injury can experience repeated episodes of aspiration of gastric contents or of pneumonia secondary to dysphagia. They can also suffer seizures of variable frequency. Intelligence is not necessarily affected; children with normal intelligence can have most severe forms of motor (spastic) paralysis. If a child suffers repeated episodes of pneumonia or seizure or is in a vegetative state, it is always at risk of acute death resulting from infection, status epilepticus, and/or vegetative or metabolic decompensation.

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