It is widely accepted that childbirth was extremely dangerous throughout history, frequently resulting in the death of both mother and infant. Science and medicine have made childbirth much safer than it has ever been.
Nonetheless, birth injuries are all too common, and many times, birth injuries are preventable as a result of these medical advancements.
If your child sustained one of these injuries, you may be entitled to financial compensation if your physician failed to act reasonably to prevent the injury.
When an infant suffers a birth injury, the child’s parents may be able to sue the doctor or medical professional(s) who delivered the baby for medical malpractice.
To be valid, the negligence must have directly resulted in the birth injury. Medical negligence occurs when a healthcare professional’s performance falls short of the medical community’s standard of care.
A birth injury attorneys have significant experience litigating these types of cases and can determine whether your child was harmed as a result of medical malpractice.
Birth injuries caused by medical malpractice may include the following
Inappropriate Forceps Use: If a mother is having difficulty delivering her child or if the infant is positioned incorrectly in the womb, the attending physician may use forceps to assist the infant.
Proper forceps use may help reduce the child’s risk of oxygen deprivation and fetal distress, two conditions associated with cerebral palsy and other birth injuries.
However, doctors must exercise extreme caution, as forceps can result in nerve damage in the child’s neck or chest, as well as other, less severe head injuries.
Improper Vacuum Use: When the mother is having difficulty expelling the fetus from the birth canal, she may require assistance from a vacuum.
Vacuums can be attached to the shoulder or head of a baby and used to guide the infant through the birth canal.
Doctors and nurses are responsible for properly positioning the infant’s vacuum. When the vacuum is used incorrectly, severe injuries to both mother and infant can occur.
Delayed Caesarean Section Ordering: If the child is in fetal distress, emergency C-sections are performed.
This frequently occurs when the child’s heart rate slows suddenly as a result of a drop in the mother’s blood pressure, placental abruption bleeding, or other delivery complications.
Additionally, uterine ruptures, cord prolapses, slowed labor, and placenta previa may necessitate an immediate C-section (placenta covering the cervix).
If the delivery team fails to recognize that the mother requires a C-section, they may be held liable for injuries to the mother and/or child.
Hypoxia: Hypoxia is a condition that occurs when a child’s brain does not receive an adequate amount of oxygen.
Hypoxia can occur during childbirth as a result of a tangled umbilical cord, infection, or placental damage.
Medical professionals are trained to detect hypoxia early and to take steps to avoid harm to either the mother or the child.
If the doctor fails to recognize the hypoxic event and take prompt, necessary action to avoid injury, they may be held liable for any damages that result.
Without prompt treatment for hypoxia, the child may develop chronic mental and physical disabilities. Additionally, birth injuries may occur as a result of the following, which may indicate medical malpractice:
- Neglecting to use the labor-inducing drug Pitocin properly
- Neglecting to perform specialized tests during pregnancy
- Neglecting to diagnose or treat infections, placental abruption or previa, umbilical cord entrapment, or premature membrane rupture
- Neglecting to refer high-risk patients to doctors who specialize in this area
- Neglecting to note and address changes in the fetus’ condition
- Neglecting to communicate prognoses
The Ten Most Frequently Occurring Birth Injuries
Head and Brain Injuries
By far the most common birth injuries are head and brain injuries. These injuries can be caused by a variety of factors, ranging from forceps impact trauma to oxygen deprivation.
Head and brain injuries are particularly common during breech births or when the birth canal is too small to accommodate the infant.
Each child and each birth are unique, and as a result, the severity of infant head and brain injuries varies.
In some cases, doctors recognize and address signs of oxygen deprivation promptly, while in others, a doctor may inadvertently prolong a condition.
Severe head and brain injuries can result in a variety of different conditions, including epilepsy, mental impairment, and cerebral palsy. In severe cases, the child may die as a result of their injuries.
A brain injury – also known as traumatic brain injury, brain damage, head trauma, or concussion – can be fatal, particularly in children.
Frequently, they wreak havoc on victims’ physical, psychological, and financial well-being. If you or someone you care about has suffered a brain injury as a result of another’s negligence, you will require assistance obtaining the compensation you require to cope with the aftermath.
The traumatic brain injury lawyers will gather evidence demonstrating the impact of your brain injury on your personal life, career, relationships, mental health, and health and will use that evidence to present your case in court.
Infant bones are extremely delicate. It is not uncommon for babies to break bones during childbirth, especially during difficult labors and breech births.
The collarbone, or more precisely, the clavicle, is the most frequently fractured bone during labor and delivery.
This is because the shoulders are the broadest part of an infant’s body, and due to the infant’s bones’ fragility, the shoulder can easily become lodged in the birth canal and fracture.
Despite their fragile bones, babies generally recover quickly from broken bones when medical attention is received.
Cerebral palsy affects nearly three out of every 1,000 children born in the United States, making it one of the most common birth injuries.
Cerebral palsy, commonly abbreviated CP, is a neurological disorder caused by brain damage or abnormal development.
This disrupts the brain’s connection to the muscles, resulting in symptoms such as muscle spasms, a lack of motor development, and vision, hearing, and learning difficulties.
Although cerebral palsy has no cure, many children succeed with the assistance of treatment, medication, or physical therapy.
Brachial Plexus Injuries
The brachial plexus is a network of nerves that runs along the shoulder, connecting the brain to the muscles of the arms and hands.
It is a vital nerve system that, if damaged, can impair your child’s ability to use their arms and hands.
It is critical for your doctor to check for damage to the brachial plexus following a shoulder injury during childbirth. While the clavicle can completely heal, the adjacent brachial plexus cannot.
Damage to the brachial plexus may result in Erb’s Palsy.
While cephalohematoma may sound frightening, it is one of the less serious birth injuries listed here.
A cephalohematoma is a collection of blood between the skull and scalp of a newborn. A cephalohematoma is similar to a severe bruise, except that the blood pocket can swell and form a visible lump on your child’s head.
This can occur as a result of broken blood vessels in the scalp caused by impact trauma or pressure.
A cephalohematoma will not harm your newborn, and while it may appear unsettling, it will typically resolve on its own.
Similar to a brachial plexus injury, facial nerve damage can result in muscular problems.
Facial paralysis can occur as a result of permanent or temporary damage to the facial nerve.
A drooping of one side of the face or an inability for your child to control their facial muscles normally are sometimes signs of facial paralysis.
If your child develops facial paralysis, your doctor should order tests to determine whether this condition will resolve on its own.
Caput succedaneum is another frightening-sounding but generally harmless condition.
Similar to a cephalohematoma, caput succedaneum (occasionally abbreviated as “caput”) is the result of a fluid buildup in your child’s head, also known as edema.
Caput succedaneum is occasionally referred to as “cone-head” due to the condition’s appearance.
As is the case with a cephalohematoma, the fluid will eventually be absorbed and removed by the body, eventually resolving on its own.
Intracranial hemorrhage/subarachnoid hemorrhage
Intracranial hemorrhages or subarachnoid hemorrhages are similar to cephalohematomas but are significantly more severe.
A hemorrhage occurs within the skull during an intracranial hemorrhage.
This type of hemorrhage can result in permanent neurological damage, and your OB/GYN should be on the lookout for signs and symptoms of this type of injury. It is critical that this is addressed immediately to avoid long-term complications or death.
Perinatal asphyxia is the inability of the newborn to breathe normally. This is a common occurrence when the umbilical cord is twisted.
Perinatal asphyxia can have a long-term effect on a newborn’s mental development, as the brain requires oxygen to function.
Perinatal asphyxia is a life-threatening condition that OB/GYNs are trained to recognize and treat.
How a Birth Injury Attorney Can Help You
These ten birth injuries, as well as numerous others, may be caused by medical malpractice or negligence.
Birth injuries, on the other hand, are not always readily apparent immediately after birth. If your delivery was not handled properly and you believe your child may have suffered a birth injury, it is critical to consult with an experienced birth injury attorney immediately.