Birth injuries can result from several causes. Sometimes lifestyle choices and decisions such as maternal obesity or conceiving after the age of 35 can be behind a child being born with injuries. Pregnancy complications too can trigger birth defects. Pregnancy is complex and a number of things can go wrong. But with modern technology, the risks are detected in time and the proper measures are taken to mitigate complications. Many forms of birth injuries can be averted with medical care.
However, the element of human error cannot be ruled out completely. Doctors, nurses, and midwives do not always meet the high standards that are expected of them. Medical negligence or malpractice is responsible for many cases of birth injuries. According to experts, there are some specific birth injuries that can be chalked up to medical negligence.
1. Brachial plexus injuries
Brachial plexus comprises the arms and the hands. If the nerves that control the brachial plexus are injured, then the child would be born with Klumke’s palsy or Erb’s palsy. The baby would not be able to move the shoulders, arms, or hands of its own volition. This injury usually happens when the baby’s shoulders are trapped beneath the mother’s pelvic bone and the doctor or midwife tugs too hard while pulling the baby out.
2. Brain Injuries or hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy
The embryo needs a constant supply of oxygen to develop. But if blood supply to the uterus is cut off, the organ that is most affected is the brain. The brain does not develop properly. This can be detected with neo-natal testing. Brain injuries happen in the latter part of pregnancy. Usually, the blood supply is interrupted by a prolapsed umbilical cord. In such cases, an immediate Caesarian Section needs to be performed to prevent brain damage to the baby. But if the doctor does not monitor the progress of the pregnancy diligently and the procedure isn’t performed on time, it would be a case of medical negligence.
3. Facial paralysis
This type of injury can result from normal deliveries. If forceps or vacuum extractors are used to pull the baby out of the birth canal, there is a possibility that too much pressure would be exerted on the face. This can damage the facial nerves and trigger complete or partial paralysis. The baby would be unable to close its eyes and move the muscles of the face. If the injury is not too severe, with medical aid, the symptoms of paralysis subside after a few days.
Manhandling the baby that is in the breech position can lead to fractures. If the doctor or midwife uses forceps and pulls the baby a little too forcefully or if the delivery is taking too long and the baby is impatiently tugged on, the clavicle could be fractured. The bay would be unable to move its arms or shoulders. However, these injuries are not permanent. They heal soon even though the baby would be in immense pain.
Cephalohematoma refers to bleeding underneath one of the cranial bones. This injury happens when assistive devices are used incorrectly to aid the delivery. The bleeding starts within a few hours of the baby being born. The first indication is a raised knob or welt on the baby’s head. With proper medical care, bleeding can be staunched. However, cephalohematoma can trigger other health complications such as jaundice, anemia, baby high blood pressure, and in rare instances, meningitis.
6. Caput Succedaneum
This is another head injury that arises from medical negligence. When the vacuum extractions aren’t used correctly, it damages the soft tissues of the baby’s head and face. Once the baby is born, the scalp tissues inflame. If the injury is slight, then the inflammation goes down in a few days. But caput succedaneum can cause jaundice and extensive brain damage
7. Cerebral palsy
Cerebral palsy can happen in the womb when blood supply to the embryo is cut off. But some cases of cerebral palsy arise during or after the birth of the baby. This is called acquired cerebral palsy. And sometimes, medical negligence can be blamed for it for example when the baby’s brain is injured due to improper use of assistive delivery techniques. The part of the brain responsible for muscle control is affected.
9. Periventricular leukomalacia
Undetected oxygen deprivation and trauma during birth (caused by forceps or vacuum extraction) can damage the white matter of the brain. It can affect many functions of the body such as eyesight, learning abilities, muscle movement, physical developmental delays, etc. Periventricular leukomalacia can lead to cerebral palsy and seizures.
Some cases of hydrocephalus can be congenital i.e it can happen in the womb. But most cases can be tracked to brain trauma caused during the delivery of the baby. Too much cerebrospinal fluid accumulates in the brain. This exerts pressure on the other parts of the brain. This can trigger developmental delays, urinary incontinence, learning impairment, double vision, etc.
11. Traumatic birth injuries
These injuries are caused exclusively because too much force was applied to the bay’s head during delivery. This can happen when the doctor uses forceps, vacuum extraction, or induces labor with specific drugs such as Cytotec or Pitocin. Cephalopelivic disproportion (the baby is too big to pass through the mother’s pelvis unaided) and breech birth (unnatural positioning of the baby) are risk factors of traumatic birth injuries.
12. Delayed C-section
Some pregnancy complications mandate a caesarian delivery. If the doctor does not detect these problems and the c-Section is carried out too late, it can cause a number of birth defects such as infant brain damage (triggered by oxygen deprivation), autism, cerebral palsy, or even meningitis– a dangerous brain infection.
How is the doctor or the hospital at fault?
When you are about to have a baby, you entrust the baby’s health to experts because they are supposed to know everything about neonatal health, the complications that may arise, how to prevent the complications, and in case they arise how to treat them. But doctors can fail in this task and this is when they will be held accountable for medical negligence or malpractice.
- Failure to identify a high-risk pregnancy and adopting appropriate measures
- Failure to screen, diagnose and treat neonatal health problems
- Failure to detect problems of the umbilical cord and treat them
- Failure to order C-Section that can prevent birth defects
- Not monitoring the heart rate of the baby
- Failure to detect the possibility of preterm birth and not doing anything to prevent it
- Failure to detect reduced oxygen supply to the fetus
- Failure to detect maternal health problems such as infection or stress that can cause birth defects
- Failure to use forceps or vacuum extraction or incorrect prescription of certain drugs
- Not administering proper medicines to a baby with a high bilirubin count
If your baby has birth injuries caused by medical negligence or malpractice then you are entitled to damages. Compensation for your baby’s prolonged treatment, the lifelong inconvenience caused by impairment of certain bodily functions triggered by the injuries, the emotional trauma suffered by the parents deserve compensation.
Birth defect compensation is complicated. You have to know who can apply for compensation if there is a statute of limitations and many other complex legal details. That is why you need to contact personal injury lawyers who can explain the procedure to you and act on your behalf to get you the compensation you deserve.
At Claim Settlement, our network of lawyers.. we connect you with have over 20 years of experience in handling personal injury and accident cases and have helped clients recover the maximum compensation in claim settlements. Our initial consultation is absolutely free and you don’t pay your lawyer until you receive the compensation you deserve. If you have suffered an injury or been in an accident call us at 1-833-892-5246 for a free consultation or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org