What is Periventricular Leukomalacia?
Periventricular leukomalacia (PVL) is a type of brain damage found in newborns that affects the white matter of the brain. PVL results in empty areas of the brain called lateral ventricles. These ventricles then fill up with fluid, a condition known as leukomalacia. Because white brain matter controls motor function, PVL results in spasticity of the muscles as well as intellectual impairment. PVL can also lead to developmental delays, vision problems and hearing problems. PVL is highly associated with cerebral palsy. In fact, 60-100 percent of infants with PVL were also diagnosed with cerebral palsy. In addition, 75 percent of premature babies who died were diagnosed with PVL.
Most experts agree that PVL is caused by intrauterine infections. Such infections lead to decreased blood flow and cell damage to a fetus’ developing brain. However, unborn babies are most susceptible to developing PVL between 26 and 34 weeks of gestation. Premature babies with a birth weight below 3.3 pounds are often diagnosed with PVL. Moreover, premature infants born before 32 weeks gestation and who are mechanically ventilated have the greatest risk of having the condition, which can be caused by acidosis, hypotension, hypoxemia and hypocarbio.
In addition to being born prematurely, there are also other risk factors that can lead to PVL. For instance, women pregnant with twins are at risk of having children with the condition. Women who experience vaginal bleeding during pregnancy are at risk of having a child with PVL, as are women who use cocaine during pregnancy. Finally, an infant diagnosed with sepsis, which is a dangerous blood infection, is also at risk for developing PVL.
Health care professionals are able to detect and diagnose PVL in infants by performing an MRI, CT scan, or cranial ultrasound. However, such tests may not detect the condition in infants when they are first born. Therefore, such tests are usually conducted 30 days after birth, especially if the infant is at risk of having PVL.
There is not cure for PVL. Treatment is usually aimed at the symptoms of the condition. Babies with PVL often undergo massage therapy and physical therapy. As they get older, they may also require speech therapy as well as treatment for vision problems.
How Gallivan & Gallivan Can Help If Your Child Was Diagnosed with Periventricular Leukomalacia
Periventricular leukomalacia, often associated with cerebral palsy, is a serious form of brain damage that can lead to vision problems, developmental delays and intellectual impairment. Such conditions often require life-long treatment and care. In some cases, medical professionals may fail to diagnose or treat the underlying cause of PVL, such as an intrauterine infection. If your child was diagnosed with PVL, and if we are retained, we will thoroughly investigate your child’s medical records and consult with pediatric neurologists to determine the cause of your child’s condition. If his or her PVL could have been prevented, we will recover compensation from those responsible. Contact the Birth Injury Lawyers at Gallivan & Gallivan.