Birth Defects and Injuries
Birth injuries are devastating regardless of the cause. Complications during childbirth can contribute to a number of serious injuries such as cerebral palsy, Erb’s palsy, and other forms of brain damage. When these conditions are the result of negligence on the part of your doctor or hospital, you are legally entitled to seek reimbursement for your harms and losses.
The costs of caring for the victim of a birth injury can last a lifetime, and the financial cost of a lifetime of care is the cause for countless bankruptcies. Despite rising medical costs, the infant mortality rate and birth injuries in United States continues to rise. This devastating fact is made worse by the massive profits hospitals make year after year. Doctors are often overworked and prevented from spending enough time with each patient. Placing profits ahead of people leaves countless children suffering every year.
How do Birth Injuries Happen?
Birth injuries can occur due to an unlimited variety of factors. Cases are reported of medical providers lacking the appropriate training, hospitals mixing patient charts resulting in improper specialized care, medical providers performing procedures while intoxicated, and countless other examples of medical negligence.
While the negligence of the hospital or doctor is the ultimate cause of the injury, the negligence usually produces a mechanism of injury during or shortly after the birthing process which causes the birth defect itself. Some common mechanisms are:
- Reduced Oxygen to the Brain
- Reduced Glucose
- Location of the Placenta
- Umbilical Cord Compression
- VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Caesarean)
Often, one or more of the above factors may occur during labor and results in an injury. The above mechanisms most often result in injury to the infant’s brain, causing lasting damage.
Common Types of Birth Injuries
Some common birth injuries are:
- Umbilical Prolapse: The umbilical cord is the lifeline of the baby. When the umbilical cord is pinched in the birth canal, the baby is starved of oxygen and is referred to as umbilical prolapse.
- Umbilical Cord Compression: This happens when the umbilical cord is wrapped around the child’s body during delivery. The wrapped cord will cut off needed oxygen and blood.
- Fetal Distress (Hypoxia): This is the broad category of injury which refers to an infant being deprived of oxygen. Often complications with the umbilical cord are the cause.
- Cerebral Palsy (See below): This is the broad term referring to numerous different types of permanent brain injuries occurring before, throughout or after the child’s birth.
- Erb’s Palsy: This traumatic injury is the result of a child’s shoulder being stuck behind the pubic bone of the mother during birth.
- Brachial Palsy/Brachial Plexus Injury: This occurs when the grouping of nerves that supply the hands and arms (the Brachial Plexus) are hurt.
- Kernicterus (Severe Jaundice): This is another form of brain damage resulting from increased jaundice.
- Brain Injuries Caused by Vacuum Extractors and Forceps: When delivering the baby, these tools are often used to twist and turn the baby through the birth canal. The use of these tools may result in traumatic injury to the spinal cord or brain.
The Causes and Signs of Cerebral Palsy
One of the most common types of birth injuries is cerebral palsy. It occurs when a newborn suffers brain damage before, during, or immediately after birth. There is a correlation between cerebral palsy and a lack of oxygen reaching the infant during the birthing process. Statistics show that cerebral palsy occurs almost two times in every 1000 births.
Symptoms of cerebral palsy often take time to materialize. Here are some of the signs that may surface over the course of your baby’s early development:
- He or she takes longer to reach certain milestones such as sitting up, crawling, walking, and talking
- He or she has trouble feeding, speaking, or swallowing
- Muscle spasms, tightness, or floppiness are evident
- He or she lacks coordination and is unable to walk
- Abnormally high or low muscle tone
- Joint or bone deformities and contractors
- The inability to easily stay in one place
Cerebral palsy affects a child’s motor functions and often results in a physical disability as the infant develops. These disabilities may affect a child’s perception, communication, behavior, thinking, as well as numerous other cognitive areas. As the child matures, cerebral palsy may affect the child’s ability to gain employment and interact with the world in a self sufficient manner. If your child has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy and you suspect the negligence of a medical provider was the cause, you and your child are entitled to reimbursement for your harms and losses.
Recognizing a Child Birth Injury
No parent can anticipate the suffering caused by medical negligence during childbirth. Few parents are even aware that this is a risk. The natural assumption of all patients in a hospital is that they will be well taken care of by qualified professionals. When this turns out not to be the case, the ramifications can be severe and permanent.
If you suspect that something is wrong with your newborn, watch for the following early signs that a brain injury may have occurred during childbirth:
- Your infant’s skin looks dusky or blue
- He or she develops seizures within 48 hours of delivery
- Your infant cannot breathe immediately after birth and needs resuscitation
How do I Hire a Child Birth Injury Lawyer?
Hiring a child birth injury lawyer should be a decision you and your family do not take lightly. Child birth injuries often involve complex medical and legal issues in order to truly understand the reason for the birth injury. Medical malpractice cases involving child birth injuries require expert testimony and must be filed within a limited time frame. It is important you hire an attorney who has experience holding medical providers and doctors responsible for negligent care. You only have one opportunity to obtain the financial recovery needed to take care of your child for the rest of their life.
The Dixon Injury Firm’s Christopher Dixon is recognized as a Top 100 Trial Lawyer by the National Trial Lawyers Association, and a Lifetime Member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum. Call today for a FREE birth injury consultation by calling 314-409-7060, or Toll-Free by calling 855-402-7274. Our birth injury lawyers work on a contingent fee basis. This means there is never a fee unless we win your case.