Expectant parents have one important thing in common: the desire to deliver a healthy baby.
Fortunately, birth injuries are rare and are not something that most families will have to deal with. But for the parents of babies who are born with birth injuries – and for parents whose babies have died due to medical malpractice – there are often more questions than answers.
According to the Birth Injury Guide, one out of every 9,714 people born in the United States is born with a birth injury. That amounts to approximately 28,000 babies born each year with a birth injury.
Not all birth injuries are the result of medical negligence. Not all birth injuries are permanent, and some resolve on their own.
But it is important to be aware of certain types of birth injuries that are caused by the negligence of a doctor, nurse or other medical professional. This information may help you, a friend or a family member who is dealing with the tragedy of a birth injury.
Common Birth Injuries
Delivery is a traumatic process, both for the fetus and for the mother. It is common for a baby to be born with bruises, areas of swelling, a misshapen head (especially in vaginal births), rashes and other minor injuries. For the most part, these conditions are normal and resolve on their own. Talk to your doctor about any concerns you may have.
However, there are certain signs and symptoms to be aware of that may signal a more serious birth injury. Here are some of the more common birth injuries that may be caused by medical malpractice:
Â· Cerebral palsy: This birth injury affects muscle control and coordination. There are many potential causes of cerebral palsy, including infection during pregnancy, oxygen deprivation, prematurity, trauma to the brain before, during or right after birth and other genetic or environmental factors. Cerebral palsy can be the result of medical malpractice.
Â· Brachial plexus injuries: The brachial plexus is a set of nerves that run from the spine through the neck and into the arms. During a difficult delivery, a doctor may use forceps or a vacuum extraction tool to aid in the delivery – or may use excessive force to try to get the baby out by hand. This pressure can cause an injury or compression of the brachial plexus. Damage to this area can affect sensation and movement in the arms, hands and shoulders. Erb’s palsy is a specific condition that may result from damage to the brachial plexus.
Â· Bone fractures: When a baby is born with one or more bone fractures, it is important for parents to seek answers. Broken bones may indicate that something went wrong during delivery. A broken collarbone (clavicle) is the most common fracture affecting newborns.
Â· Shoulder dystocia: During difficult deliveries, a baby’s shoulders may get stuck in the mother’s pelvis. This can cause bodily damage to the baby and poses significant risks to the mother as well.
Â· Spinal cord injuries: Fetal spinal cord injuries can be the result of a difficult birth, medical negligence or other factors. Symptoms vary depending on the location and severity of the injury.
Â· Brain injuries: Trauma to the head during delivery or a prolonged or difficult labor may result in a brain injury to the child. Some signs of a brain injury may be immediately recognizable – or at least indicate to parents that something is wrong. But other signs of brain damage may not be recognizable until the child is older. One specific type of brain injury, hypoxia, is caused by oxygen deprivation to the brain.
Doctors have a responsibility to do what is in the best interests of the child and mother during labor and delivery. This means ordering proper tests, performing cesarean sections when needed, monitoring signs of fetal distress and more. Failure to take important precautions can end in disaster.
What To Do If You Suspect Your Child Has Suffered A Birth Injury
When mothers and fathers notice possible signs of a birth injury, they may not know what to do or where to turn. Unfortunately, they may not get answers from their doctor.
If you think your newborn may have suffered a birth injury, it is important to trust your instincts and seek answers. Here is a nonexhaustive list of symptoms that may indicate that something is wrong:
Â· Constant crying
Â· Sensitivity to light
Â· Swelling in one specific area
Â· Restricted movement
Â· A limp arm
Â· Delays in developmental milestones
If you notice any of these symptoms in your child, it may be time to talk to a doctor you trust and a medical malpractice lawyer. You may be entitled to compensation to cover a wide range of damages, including hospital bills, treatment, pain and suffering, and more.
Remember: A birth injury may not be diagnosed until years after a child is born (especially in the case of certain brain injuries). However, it is important to talk to a lawyer as soon as you know something is wrong. There is a limited amount of time in which to file a claim.
If you suspect that your child has suffered a birth injury, talk to a medical malpractice lawyer about your legal options. The Donahey Law Firm offers a free consultation to discuss a potential birth injury claim. We have 5 offices across Ohio and Kentucky or we can come to you.