As parents prepare for a new baby, they hope for the best, and hope that the healthcare providers responsible for their infant’s health do the best that they can. After all, a physician is responsible for giving both mother and infant medical care for at least nine months. No parent expects to experience a birth injury.
Part of the medical care provided by physicians includes recommending the best prenatal vitamins, performing routine check-ups, and, at the end of the pregnancy, delivering the baby as safely as possible. But all too often, babies are born with problems that don’t match their parents expectations. Sometimes it’s because the baby is born with an undiagnosed birth defect. And then sometimes the baby is a victim of a birth injury that occurs during labor and delivery.
Some examples of birth injuries include:
- Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE)
- Brachial Plexus Injury
- Infant Brain Damage
- Cerebral Palsy
- Shoulder Dystocia
- Birth Trauma
- Forceps Delivery Injuries
- Vacuum Extraction Injuries
- Broken Bones
- Skull Fractures
Physicians and medical staff are human and make mistakes, but the fact remains that they are responsible for ensuring an infant is delivered into the world as healthy as possible and without injuries caused by sheer medical negligence.
Cerebral palsy (CP) is a disorder that affects hundreds of thousands of people. CP can result from birth injuries that occur before, during or shortly after delivery. The most common birth injuries that lead to CP are oxygen deprivation, brain injuries or certain infections.
To learn more about Cerebral Palsy, visit our pages:
- Cerebral Palsy Types
- Cerebral Palsy Symptoms
- Cerebral Palsy Treatment
- Cerebral Palsy Prognosis
- Cerebral Palsy Legal Questions
Erb’s palsy is a birth injury causing nerve damage in the shoulder and neck. This results from physical injury during delivery. The disorder is considered a form of brachial plexus disorder, but it is different from a brachial plexus injury. Birth injuries that lead to Erb’s palsy include excessive pulling, forceful delivery and breech birth.
To learn more about Erb’s Palsy, visit our pages:
- Erb’s Palsy Symptoms
- Erb’s Palsy Causes
- Erb’s Palsy Treatment
- Erb’s Palsy Prognosis
- Erb’s Palsy Legal Questions
Brachial Plexus Injury
The brachial plexus is a system of nerve fibers that run from the spinal cord, through the neck and down into the arms. When a birth injury affects the brachial plexus, the infant may suffer from injuries that impact mobility, feeling and pain. Birth injuries that can lead to a brachial plexus injury include breech delivery, large infant size, difficult delivery and maternal diabetes.
To learn more about Brachial Plexus Injuries, visit our pages:
- Brachial Plexus Injury Symptoms
- Brachial Plexus Injury Causes
- Brachial Plexus Injury Treatment
- Brachial Plexus Injury Prognosis
- Brachial Plexus Injury Legal Questions
Infant Brain Damage
Infant brain damage can occur for many reasons including oxygen deprivation, physical trauma, delayed or difficult delivery and severe jaundice. Infants who suffer brain damage before, during or shortly after birth may experience a wide range of medical problems, including disabilities and psychological issues. Infants may develop serious medical conditions like cerebral palsy or autism, and may develop other co-occurring conditions.
To learn more about Infant Brain Damage, visit our pages:
- Infant Brain Damage Symptoms
- Infant Brain Damage Causes
- Infant Brain Damage Treatment
- Infant Brain Damage Prognosis
- Infant Brain Damage Legal Questions
Infant Wrongful Death
Infant wrongful death may occur if medical negligence leads to your infant dying before, during or shortly after delivery. Infant wrongful deaths may result from inadequate care, improper actions by healthcare providers, failing to diagnose a medical condition or failure to act in a timely manner when the infant is in distress. Infant wrongful death is one of the most heartbreaking types of medical malpractice.
To learn more about Infant Wrongful Death, visit our pages:
- Infant Wrongful Death Support Groups
- Infant Wrongful Death Financial Support
- Infant Wrongful Death Legal Questions
Birth Defect vs. Birth Injury
A birth defect is a health problem that afflicts your baby from the outset based on your child’s DNA. Examples of birth defects are Down Syndrome, a cleft palate, a heart murmur or other health problems stemming from the structure of the child’s DNA.
In some instances, however, birth defects are a direct cause of outside factors, such as pregnant women taking medication that’s been shown to cause birth defects. Certain anti-depressant drugs and even certain birth control medications can cause birth defects. In these cases, the medication birth defects could have been prevented had the physician not prescribed the medications during pregnancy.
A birth injury is a health problem that an infant is born with that is, in most cases, completely preventable. The most common types of preventable birth injuries are due to:
- Pulling and/or twisting the infant improperly during the delivery period
- Improper handling and use of birth-assisting tools, such as forceps or a vacuum extraction tool
- Administering the wrong amount or the wrong type of medication to the mother during pregnancy and during labor
- Failure to monitor the infant properly for distress, including failure to regularly monitor fetal heartbeat
- Failure to schedule and perform an emergency cesarean surgery (C-section).
Medical staff can make mistakes that harm your child (sometimes for a lifetime) for a variety of reasons, including inattentiveness, exhaustion or inexperience. Sometimes, an experienced physician who is better equipped to handle high-risk pregnancies is not available when the baby is being delivered.
None of these reasons are excusable. Unfortunately, these are sometimes the sources for the aforementioned problems. While these are all things that medical staff members should know how to avoid, these accidents are still likely to happen, especially if during a stressful, difficult delivery.
A difficult delivery is something that an experienced doctor should be able to avoid. Another way that a birth injury happens to your child is from medical negligence. Medical negligence can be something as simple as a doctor not viewing the imaging materials properly (namely the ultrasound, but other medical images of the baby could likewise suffice) and thus preventing a difficult birth. In fact, most birth injuries happen because of a difficult labor.
Several birth injuries and difficult labors can be prevented just by monitoring the size of the baby in proportion to the birth canal, as well as monitoring what position the baby is in weeks before labor. Furthermore, doctors should monitor whether the umbilical cord and placenta are in proper health and in healthy positions.
Medical negligence could start earlier than that, however. The baby could be malnourished, underweight, or could have a folic acid deficiency if the doctor isn’t prescribing a necessary nutrition and vitamin regimen to the mother.
Other examples of medical negligence could be the doctor’s failure to perform necessary tests. One of many important tests that the doctor should order is a group B strep test. If the baby’s birth injury is related to the doctor not performing the right tests, this is an example of medical negligence. Even if the baby is born with a birth defect – something that wouldn’t be considered preventable – and the parents and doctor are seemingly surprised about the state of the baby’s health, this is considered medical negligence.
Sometimes the parents are not financially prepared to take care of a child that requires a lot of medical care. If the doctor did not give them the proper information about their child beforehand, this could be medical negligence.
Consequences of a Birth Injury
Birth injuries are serious. If you think your child may be the victim of a birth injury, track your child’s symptoms and consult a doctor. Some of the long-term consequences of a birth injury can be lessened the quicker the child gets medical attention. In addition to the previously mentioned disorders, birth injuries may also lead to a myriad of additional medical issues, including:
- A long-term decrease in strength and stamina
- Decreased and/or lack of nerve sensations
- Cognitive impairment
- Emotional impairment
- Failure of bones to thrive and develop correctly
- Osteoarthritis and joint dysfunctions
- Emotional and psychological problems
Cerebral Palsy and Birth Injuries
Although any type of birth injury is devastating, cerebral palsy (CP) remains one of the most severe disorders resulting from birth injuries. In most cases, CP leads to devastating health issues and disabilities that last a lifetime.
There is no cure for CP, which means these permanent disabilities place infants at risk for serious medical problems long-term. What’s more, the financial aspect of taking care of children with CP is more than the average family can afford.
CP will vary in severity, ranging from light involuntary movements while carrying out daily activities, to complete loss of movement. There are numerous reasons in which birth injuries contribute to the development of CP, including physicians who fail to:
- Detect, diagnose, and treat maternal infections
- Properly monitor fetal heartbeat
- Detect umbilical cord problems, such as a prolapsed umbilical cord
- Detect maternal and/or fetal distress, and in turn fail to schedule and carry out an emergency cesarean surgery (C-section)
- Properly use birth-assisting tools during childbirth by applying too much force or improper pulling
Costs Associated with a Birth Injury
Birth injuries are often lifelong complications that require consistent medical treatment and rehabilitation. Depending upon the severity of the injuries, the financial costs associated with birth injuries can range significantly. Some families incur several thousand dollars to over a million during the lifespan of a child with birth injuries.
For instance, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the lifetime costs of caring for a child with cerebral palsy (CP) is around $1 million. The costs of caring for a child who suffers hearing loss after a birth injury typically averages around $400,000. And the costs associated with vision impairments average a little over $500,000.
There are avenues that help parents with high costs of disabilities, such as grants and other forms of government assistance. However, it is important to remember that if your child’s birth injuries are a result of medical negligence and carelessness, the medical staff, hospital, and/or physician may be liable for damages. Furthermore, although helpful, most grants and government assistance programs are typically not enough to help cover the long-term, overwhelming expenses associated with birth injuries.