Member Insights by Donahey Law Firm
The birth of a baby should be a joyous time, but medical malpractice resulting in a birth injury can leave a newborn with permanent disability and families with additional challenges to raising their child. Six to eight of every 1000 newborns experience a birth injury and up to 50% of birth injuries to mothers and babies are thought to be avoidable with proper planning and care. It’s important that expectant parents know how their child could be injured during birth and take steps to help avoid this.
First, what is a birth injury? A birth injury is any trauma a baby experiences during birth or even shortly before and after. Some birth injuries are minor and will heal with no future complications. Other birth injuries can be life-threatening or cause permanent disability. It’s important to remember that not every birth injury will be the result of medical malpractice or negligence. However, if your child’s birth injury is caused by medical staff or procedures, you may be entitled to compensation to cover immediate medical expenses and long-term treatments and care.
Some of the most common birth injuries occurring in the United States are:
Cerebral Palsy is a condition often resulting from brain damage during birth. It can affect muscle development and motor skills. There is currently no cure and therapy will be needed throughout the child’s life. Medical negligence such as failure to monitor the mother or improper birthing technique can lead to a lack of oxygen to the brain. Premature and underweight babies are at higher risk for cerebral palsy.
Facial nerves are easily injured during birth due to pressure on the face, leading to facial paralysis. The newborn’s face will appear asymmetrical, particularly when crying. Most facial paralysis will resolve within a few weeks to months. However, surgery may be necessary for a torn nerve. Facial paralysis can be the result of medical malpractice. It occurs more often if vacuum extraction or forceps are improperly used during delivery.
In addition to cerebral palsy, other brain injuries may occur due to oxygen deprivation before, during, or after birth. A delayed delivery, long time in the birth canal, or lack of monitoring can all result in the destruction of brain cells due to oxygen deprivation, known as Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE). This is the leading preventable birth injury.
Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injuries, while rare, can lead to permanent paralysis, problems with eating and breathing, or even infant death. Improper or aggressive use of forceps has been linked to spinal nerve damage such as bruising or tears. A physician unfamiliar with the risk factors or signs of a spinal cord injury may cause a preventable and serious injury.
Bruising or Lacerations
The most common and also mild birth injuries are bruising and lacerations (cuts) that occur during delivery. Pressure while in the birth canal or forceps can leave bruises on the face and head. These are temporary and generally not the result of malpractice or negligence.
There is an inherent risk of injury to your newborn due to the natural traumas of birth. Therefore, it can be difficult to determine if a condition or injury was avoidable and thus the result of medical malpractice. If your infant has suffered a birth injury, you need an experienced legal team on your side to fight for you. Call the Donahey Law Firm for your free consultation today.