If you experienced a traumatic or complicated birth and are worried that your child may have suffered a birth injury, you most likely have many questions, concerns, and emotions. We know how difficult this can be for you. And so we want to offer a list of 5 things parents should know about birth injuries that could help you begin the process of understanding your situation.
Inspired by a recent Huffington Post article about cerebral palsy following a birth injury, it is our hope that this article will offer some guidance and helpful information for your family.
What Parents Should Know about Birth Injuries
To help guide you on your way to understanding birth injuries, your rights, and your options as a parent, consider the following:
Birth Injuries vs. Birth Defects
If your child is injured at the time of birth, it is important that you understand the difference between birth injuries and birth defects. For example:
- Birth defects are conditions affecting your child’s DNA, such as Down Syndrome, heart defects, or cleft palate. These conditions are not caused by outside factors, and most often, are not preventable.
- Birth injuries are considered preventable, and may be caused by negligent healthcare, medications interfering with pregnancy, or improper use of medical equipment. Common types of birth injuries include conditions like hypoxia (oxygen deprivation), cerebral palsy, brachial plexus injury, shoulder dystocia, and persistent pulmonary hypertension.
Take Cues from Your Child
As a parent, you no doubt will pay close attention to how your child develops. Every parent is acutely aware of the all-important milestones like sitting without assistance, crawling, walking, self-feeding, and sleeping through the night. It is important to recognize any signs that your child may not be meeting those milestones, or may be struggling developmentally.
Parents often feel like they have done something wrong if their child is struggling developmentally, but in most every case, there are underlying reasons why the child may be struggling.
Speak to your pediatrician immediately if you notice any of the following birth injury symptoms:
- Health-related symptoms: Including fever, low heart rate, constipation, jaundice, hypo- or hypertension, anemia, changes in hearing or vision, or inflamed nasal passages.
- Action-related symptoms: Including difficulty with feeding, arched back when crying, excessive fussiness, nausea or vomiting, lethargy, seizures, or excessive drooling.
- Skeletal symptoms: Including fractures, muscle stiffness or looseness, weak movement or reflexes, favoring one side of the body, limbs bent toward the body, or curling of the hands and feet.
Scientific Research Can be Helpful
The overall development of infants and children is based on the APGAR scoring system, which evaluates the overall health of the child. The APGAR includes appearance, activity, pulse, respiration, and other factors. While the APGAR score is helpful in determining your child’s development, it is not the only factor you should consider.
Talk to your pediatrician about relevant scientific research that may explain your child’s situation, or give you insight into managing it. There are numerous published studies relating to birth injuries, and this information can be extremely helpful for parents.
Severity of Birth Injuries Does Not Equal Severity of Impact
Even a mild birth injury can have a significant impact on your child’s life, and your own. The severity of a birth injury does not always equate to the severity of the impact on your family, and should not be minimized.
As a parent, be aware that your child may suffer negatively due to even small delays, setbacks, or restrictions – especially as he or she gets older and becomes more socially active.
In school, even minor issues like not being able to participate in recess or school outings can be devastating emotionally. The mental and emotional health of your family is as important as their physical health.
Do Not Wait until Your Child is 18 to Pursue Action
If your child has suffered a birth injury, it is important to start protecting his or her rights as soon as you realize that an injury has occurred.
Every state has a statute of limitations for birth injury lawsuits, so it is important to act quickly. Further, once your child turns 18, he or she will be considered legally an adult, which also can restrict your ability (or theirs) to take legal action.
Birth injuries are often lifelong, and can require continued medical care, surgeries, therapy, and special daily care. By taking legal action, not only are you standing up for the rights of your child, but you also are holding accountable those who may have contributed to his or her injuries.
Birth injuries are considered preventable events, and are never okay. You have the right as a parent to pursue financial recovery for your child’s injuries, as well as the financial costs associated with past and future medical care and life expenses.
Get the Help You Deserve
If your child is battling a birth injury, he or she needs you to be their biggest advocate. We want you to know that you are not alone. Our team of attorneys, and our staff, are well aware of the complex, emotional nature of birth injury cases, and we are prepared to help you fight for your rights and the future well-being of your child.
Our firm has successfully litigated numerous birth injury cases, be it through settlement or trial. We have the skills and experience our clients need to obtain a favorable outcome.
Do not wait to get the compassionate, skilled help you need. Contact us right away.